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Prison teachers get creative to teach during pandemic

Thursday, May 07, 2020

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The classrooms here at Kate Barnard Correctional Center are unusually quiet. Since the Covid-19 crisis began, ODOC teachers have been forced to alter their lesson plans.  

“It’s been difficult not being able to go into class and get the proper help we need,” inmate Starkesha White said. “But we’ve been working it out.” 

The education team hand deliver weekly assignments, catering to the individual needs of every inmate. 

“We deliver those ourselves,” Kate Barnard Principal Todd Winn said. “We are able to maintain social distancing requirements and still have some contact with them. That helps. And we pick them up every week too.” 

In fact, participation has held steady. An impressive 97% of all students complete their weekly assignments. 

“We certainly believe in them,” Winn said. “If we match up our activities with what we know they need to work on, they will continue to have that kind of success rate.”  

Included inside every folder is a personalized, motivational message. 

‘Our students have responded to those notes,” Winn told us. “They’ve responded to the cards teachers put in there. They have really challenged themselves to make sure we meet the needs of the students.”  

They may be saddled with Covid constraints, but inmates are refusing to give up on their dream of earning that life-changing high school diploma. 

“Whatever it takes to get to where we need to be,” Starkesha White said. 

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