Herald Times on 5/23/2017 by Abby Tonsing
Monroe County Jail inmate Albert Jones served as the day’s valedictorian, of sorts.
Wearing a white trusty jumpsuit, rather than a cap and gown, he stood at a lectern in the jail’s classroom and read aloud from the poem he penned last week, called “Learning.”
It details growing up on the streets of Detroit, dismissing education as a teenager and admitting his mistake as an adult:
“It was a humbling experience to realize 30 years later that I was wrong. / Starting a new life this time with education as my foundation on which I can build.”
Tuesday afternoon, he received a National Adult Honor Society certificate, a National Career Readiness certificate and a College Ready certificate. Jones was one of nine Monroe County Jail inmates who attended a ceremony recognizing achievement in adult education courses provided by the Monroe County Community School Corp.
The program helps inmates with obtaining high school, or general education, diplomas. Classes in work skills are also offered, as are study sessions for entrance exams to community or four-year colleges.
This school year, 48 jail inmates spent 1,711 hours in MCCSC’s adult education program. Eight people received diplomas, and 21 people received national career-readiness certificates.
Seven people have been admitted to Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington, and five people have gotten jobs after leaving the jail, MCCSC’s director of adult education, Robert Moore, told the group.
“I love celebrating success,” Moore said. “And that is what you are being right now, successful.”
MCCSC Superintendent Judy DeMuth awarded the certificates to the inmates, while adult basic education teacher Chris Harmon shared each person’s academic accomplishments. Monroe County Sheriff Brad Swain gave a short speech, and Maj. Pam Moser used her phone to take photos.
There wasn’t a band to play “Pomp and Circumstance.” There were no tassels to move from the right side of a cap to the left. But the smiles of the inmates as they received the certificates they worked hard to earn rivaled the smiles of any graduate on the outside.
The following inmates joined Jones in receiving certificates during the brief ceremony Tuesday: Brenda Jay, Shanelle Keo, Kaitlyn Essick, Steve Short, Jordan Pence, Brian Thacker, Travis Combs and David Henderson.
“What I hope is this has given you all a boost in confidence and abilities,” the sheriff said. “Don’t let this be the highlight of your education. Keep going in making yourselves better.”
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