Academics & Research

Urban Ed Class Visits and Volunteers at Juvenile Detention Center

By: Mary Ann Cozza

John Kelly, Urban Education assistant professor, recently took his “Introduction to Special Populations” classes on a field trip to the Harris County Juvenile Detention Center, an experience that was intended to open their minds and challenge their boundaries.

The students traveled to the center to learn about its educational and volunteer opportunities, toured the facility and spoke with administrators as well as incarcerated juveniles.

“My classes have a three-hour service element that requires students to tutor at-risk or special needs students,” Kelly said. “Students can choose to tutor anywhere, but I wanted them to know about this underestimated and underserved population in juvenile detention centers.”

About 40 students from Kelly’s three classes, one face-to-face and two online, attended the initial tour and information session. Eight have already volunteered to tutor at the center and Kelly expects more to follow suit.

“I wanted to show these students the important role teachers and mentors play in the lives of at-risk students,” Kelly said. “As educators, they can greatly impact kids’ lives for the better.”

After the tour, students wrote paragraphs on their experiences inside the detention center and a sample of their thoughts are below:

“I was shocked at the lostness I felt looking into their eyes.”

“How young the residents were was surprising to me. I didn’t know 10-year- olds could be in jail.”

“There is no such thing as a bad child, only bad environments, bad neighborhoods and all they need is encouragement and love.”

For more information, contact Kelly at kellyj@uhd.edu.

Urban Education class listens to a presentation from Oliver H. Burbridge, Principal of Excel Academy-JJC at the detention center.

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