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Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014
 

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'Prison Teaching Initiative at Princeton University'



Participants in Princeton's Prison Teaching Initiative talk about why they got involved. Read more.


Video Closed Captions


[MUSIC PLAYING]

MATTHEW SPELLBERG: I knew
actually that I wanted to

teach in a prison before I
came to graduate school.

And I picked Princeton in part
because I knew that there was

a prison teaching
program here.

BETH STROUD: The students
are incredible.

They are the most motivated
students I've ever met.

ROSS LERNER: There are some
people who are drawn to it for

reasons that have mostly
to do with activism.

And then there are people who
are drawn to it mostly because

they identify as educators.

MARCUS JOHNSON: And we got the
question, they're like, well,

we know you're paid.

We're like, actually
we're not.

And so we got a battery of
questions like, well, do they

pay for your gas?

Do they pay for your food?

We're like no.

We actually want to do this.

GILLIAN KNAPP: It's
pure teaching.

It's chalk.

It's waving your hands.

It's talking to people.

It's doing your calculations,
your essays, your corrections

in pencil and paper.


REGINALD MURPH: I became
involved in the teaching

initiative because there
was a flyer in the

hallway of the prison.

I was walking.

And I remember seeing it.

And I'm like, naw.

How good could college
classes be in prison?

And I was with my cell mate.

And he was telling, he's like,
maybe you should just try it.

Just do it.

You get out of the cell
a little more.

I'm like, all right.

I'll try it.

And I'll do it.

And I did a public speaking
class, which I loved.

And it was a really
good class.

And then I started taking
more and more.

SANDRA SUSSMAN: Our students
are just incredible, really

motivated, passionate about
learning and about turning

their lives around through
education.

MARCUS JOHNSON: I would say that
I am a role model, and

particularly as a black male in
a prison population that is

over represented in
African Americans.

ROSS LERNER: Genuinely you are
pushed to be a better teacher,

because you'll really be called
out if you're not being

a good teacher in
this context.

BETH STROUD: I've heard so many
of them say that they

wish they had applied themselves
more in middle

school, and high school, when
they have the opportunity, and

how happy they are despite where
they are to have that

opportunity to have a second
chance at that opportunity to

take learning seriously.

REGINALD MURPH: If I had to
speak to an inmate that was

kind of hesitant about going
to school, I guess I would

advise him just take a class,
see where he's at.

But if he wants it, and he does
see a future for himself,

then he definitely pursue it.

Because you can't
lose nothing.

It doesn't hurt to try.

And also, I mean, it's real.

It's a real thing.

I was happy when I took
the Princeton classes.

What makes a great great is
not the goals that the

accomplish but the obstacles
they overcome to accomplish

those goals.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

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