At the Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) located in Chowchilla, Ca Literacy Coordinator Ms. Cindy Greer meets with two dozen inmates to assign work projects. These assigned projects are for literacy tutors. The tutors, who are women incarcerated prisoners themselves, help their fellow women prisoners to become better readers and to help them pass requirements to obtain their GED.
“This program gives students who have never been successful in reading an opportunity to succeed,” said Ms.Greer, Literacy Coordinator.
Over 300 women inmates voluntarily sign up for these classes and tutoring sessions so that they can better themselves upon release and become contributing members of society.
In order to qualify for the position of tutor within Valley State Prison for Women, the inmate candidates must file a written application for the tutoring positions, which is followed by an interview to determine their ability to do the job. Selected inmates complete 15 hours of specialized training that leads to certification in the Laubach reading method, a 60 year old, phonics based curriculum developed primarily for adults with little or no reading ability.
Once the inmate candidate is accepted into the tutoring program, they will work one on one with inmates to increase their reading levels and to help them with their studying to complete their GED test. The success rate is quite impressive for the women being tutored – over 40% of the inmates received their GED certificates with the help of Valley State Prison for Women inmate tutors.
For women who are incarcerated, away from their families, children, grandchildren and sisters – having the opportunity improve their reading skills and the self-esteem of completing their GED’s can be a life-changing and life-turning event. Building their resume with educational qualifications and credentials will give these women a chance at a new life.