By Cameron Maltby for South Puget Sound Community College
The Thurston County Jail program at South Puget Sound Community College provides inmates at the Thurston County Correctional Facility a free opportunity to earn their General Education Development (GED) certificate through SPSCC while incarcerated. The program began in 1996, and for the last ten years has had 2,138 registered students with 292 graduates earning their GED.
The program is taught by Adult Basic Education instructor Bonnie Rose. She has taught the program for seven years.
Students study GED materials during the week and take tests on Fridays. The SPSCC Testing Center goes to the jail and administers the GED tests.
“It’s a big collaboration. Different parts of the college work together, the Testing Center, the Adult Basic Education Department, Thurston County Corrections, and also the Thurston County Commissioners,” said Rose. The commissioners pay for half of the program’s expenses, including the student tuition and testing fees. A memorandum of understanding says that SPSCC will pay all other fees.
The program has its origins in Mason County at Olympic College. Rose began her teaching career at Olympic College. She started working as a classroom assistant and was later hired by the college to start a GED program at the Mason County Correctional Facility. Rose worked there for five years before transferring to SPSCC.
Rose teaches two classes at the jail: “One of the classes the college pays me to teach, and one of the classes the jail pays me to teach,” she said. All funding goes through SPSCC. Officially, Rose works for SPSCC, but the correctional facility pays for half of her salary.
Since its start in 1996, the GED program has served about 3,037 students and awarded 546 GEDs. Many students continue their education after going through the program.
To learn more about the program, contact Bonnie Rose at email@example.com.