Tutors Help Inmates Pursue Educational Goals at Jennifer Road Detention Center

August 17, 2023

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Pictured above, tutors Janet LaBella, Michael Green, and Vicki Jordan (left to right) are dedicated Jennifer Road Detention Center tutors.

By Michael Green, Literacy Council Tutor, Assessor, and Board Member

In 2016, a call went out from Jennifer Road Detention Center (JRDC) in Annapolis for an Anne Arundel County Literacy Council tutor for an inmate who just wanted to learn how to read. There had only been tutors active at the Ordnance Road Correctional Center, the larger county jail in Glen Burnie, until that point. I raised my hand at the Saturday training workshop when the opportunity was presented. I could not have imagined how many rewarding tutoring experiences would follow!

Soon after, I was joined by tutors Janet LaBella and Kathy Lang and others. We were able to let inmates and staff know that we were there and ready to supplement the pre-GED program already in place, offered by another volunteer group. There are many students who cannot participate in that program.

Over the years, we have met many interesting students with different abilities and a myriad of goals. We’ve made it through the pandemic and are now as large a group of tutors as we have ever had. We’re so glad to offer all the levels of support that the AACLC does as a whole: Basic Literacy, ESL, GED prep, and math.

Janet LaBella, who has been performing placement assessments for JRDC students wanting to take the GED, notes that many of the students score at the third to fifth-grade level in reading and math. Janet adds, “These students benefit greatly from individualized one-on-one tutoring that addresses learning gaps and reinforces basic skills, priming them for success with the GED and other life skills.”

New AACLC and Jennifer Road Detention Center tutor Susan Hadary really enjoys the opportunity to tutor there. Her enthusiasm is contagious! Susan says, “It’s been an exciting journey working with the first student to sign up for the newly established tutoring session for women at the JRDC. This 18-year-old had stopped attending classes in middle school and was now interested in doing GED prep. With good reading comprehension, her tutoring started with a focus on social studies. Her love for learning about history and geography is demonstrated each week by her motivation and enthusiasm.”

Tutor Vicki Jordan, who joined our team after over 20 years of volunteer work at Ordnance Road Correctional Center, says her basic literacy student “is so motivated, and I can see his confidence building each week. He asks great questions and is very curious about history…particularly African Americans who have roots in Maryland! His energy is great, and I am inspired by this young man!“

New tutors Sam Dewey, Sue Warren, and Martha West are all having similar successful experiences. The thirst for learning is strong in all of our students.

We all feel fortunate to live in a county that supports these programs in its jails and are happy to have the support of the Literacy Council in helping fulfill the educational goals of all students who ask for help.

Tutors Kathy Lang and Sam Dewey (left to right) enjoy volunteering at JRDC.

There are nine Literacy Council tutors volunteering at JRDC. These include tutors in the high school diploma program who work with inmates to help them prepare to take the GED. This summer, two JRDC students earned high school diplomas.

In Glen Burnie, some of our longest-serving tutors are doing important educational work at the Ordnance Road Correctional Center. Students there are also earning diplomas and achieving their goals.

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