The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office recently launched a program honoring teachers across our county, presenting them with the “HCSO Teacher of the Month” award. We also want to take time to acknowledge and appreciate the hard work and dedication of our Education team right here at the Hamilton County Justice Center.
HCSO Public Information Officer Kyla Woods recently sat down with Diana Williams-Harris, Education Coordinator for the Justice Center, about the work of our Education team to help incarcerated individuals prepare for and obtain their GED. Ms. Harris has been teaching at the Justice Center since 2018.
Woods: What made you want to provide education to the inmate population?
Harris: My passion for teaching has been so rewarding. In the past, I have seen so many students achieve their goals in life. The adult males that come into our program want their education regardless of the challenges and circumstances that have been presented to them in life. All of this is worthwhile to witness.
Woods: What unique challenges does this job present, and how do you approach those challenges?
Harris: The most unique challenge in a correctional facility of education is to observe and support students who are willing to obtain their GED and/or enhance their academic and life skills. Whatever the circumstance, some tend to lack educational resources in their past, and that can impede their ability to learn and become productive citizens in society.
Woods: What have been some of the most rewarding experiences you have had as an educator at the Justice Center?
Harris: My most rewarding experience is to witness students change their mindset and hear statements go from “I cannot” to “I can, and I have achieved…”
Other rewards are as follows:
- Helped to improve students’ graduation rate (GED Certification) from 36% to 89% (plus) percentile rate.
- Being aware and knowledgeable with some of the correctional facility operations compared to outside businesses that I was most familiar with.
- Maintain confidentiality and security, which is extremely important to our department.
- Established the new Pearson Vue Test Site License and Center.
- Established an Aztec License so the students are able to work independently.
Woods: What would you want someone in the public to understand about our Education program?
Harris: Our program is mandated and open to inmates who want to receive their education and desire to get their GED. We also work to help minimize the recidivism rate of our students.
There are criteria that must be met in order to be in the GED program. Those who are exempt from the program include:
- Excessively high bond
- Felonious violent charges
- Status as a sex offender
- Illegal immigration status
- Record of discipline for violent and anti-social behaviors
- State time or reprimand to Ohio Department of Corrections
Woods: What’s your favorite thing about being an Educator?
Harris: My favorite thing about being an educator is teaching, learning, collaborating, and working to enhance my profession. Both teachers, Tina and Marion, are phenomenal educators whom I can depend on. Most of all, I find teaching to be gratifying. As I continue this journey, I hope that I have made a positive impact in the lives of others in the education sector.
Ravea Barron, one of the incarcerated individuals who have been impacted by Diana’s work, shared that he recently came back as a mentor for the program. Mr. Barron said that being part of this program is another step to moving back into society. In his words, Ms. Harris’ positive energy and accountability showed him that she cared about him moving forward in life.
His goal now is to try to make a positive influence on his peers.
Thank you to our Education team – Diana Williams-Harris, Marion Allman-Roseberry, and Tina Nolan – for all the work they do to educate and uplift the inmate population here at the Hamilton County Justice Center.