“Participating in the transformation of the world” : Roots of Success at Stafford Creek Corrections Center

Roots of Success graduates

Roots of Success graduates enjoy the graduation ceremony.

Later that day I was able to attend the most recent cohort’s graduation ceremony, held in a sunny room bordered by lockers. Windows muted periodic loudspeaker announcements outside. At one end of the room a table sat next to the class’s podium, hand-crafted and finished from discarded pallet board. Instructors sat against the wall on one side of the room, administrators on the other, and graduates were seated in the middle. The first speaker, Jenson Hankins, was a graduate from Stafford’s first class. Hankins joked that Roots of Success could just as easily be called “Roots of Challenges” because it helps students understand the problems they have and will face, including those of re-entry. He recalled a video from his graduation ceremony in which Nalini Nadkarni (former Evergreen professor and SPP co-founder) described sustainability education as a ribbon connecting prisoners with the outside world, and said that in his experience, “no matter how isolated I feel from the outside world, environmental literacy lets me know I’m part of the larger environment.”

Hankins, member of Stafford’s first Roots of Success cohort, speaks to new graduates while Instructors DuHaime and Mitchell look on

Hankins, member of Stafford’s first Roots of Success cohort, speaks to new graduates while Instructors DuHaime and Mitchell look on.

Several speakers congratulated the instructors on the class and program’s success, calling attention to their remarkable dedication to improving the class (for example, between classes, the instructors meet regularly to brainstorm improvements, adapt materials to improve their accessibility, and review and comment in each student’s workbook). When the instructors spoke, they thanked the students for making the class successful by showing such respect for them, each other, and the material. Mr. Grady described their work together as “elevated,” raising the quality of the class and showing respect not just for each other, but for future students. Mr. Walrond emphasized interdependence of all inmates, calling for them to challenge each other to succeed: “What I allow you to do, I allow myself to do. One thing I will not allow myself to do is fail… We need to depend on each other. Lean on each other. Ask ourselves, ‘what am I doing for the guys who are coming behind me?’”

Roots of Success graduates

Roots of Success graduates listen to a graduation speaker.

Read about another Roots of Success graduation at Stafford Creek Corrections Center here.


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  2. Each One, Teach One | Sustainability in Prisons Project

    […] had the privilege of working with and visiting several prison classrooms delivering the Roots of Success environmental literacy curriculum.  I’m encouraged to see inmates challenging themselves […]

    Reply to this comment ↓

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