By Joe Vinduska, Barton Community College
GREAT BEND, Kan. — Barton Community College and Ellsworth Correctional Facility (ECF) honored the achievements of ECF residents at their annual learning celebration this past October.
This year’s celebration recognized 95 graduates for their dedication to their education by receiving an associate degree, high school diploma, welding certificate, or other work preparedness certificate. The residents’ hard work and hours of studying were evident, as a record 13 students walked the stage to receive their associate degree.
Barton’s Coordinator of Correctional Education Services Nicole Barr said Barton has served ECF for over twenty years and has become one of the nation’s most successful correctional education programs. The program serves more than 200 students annually through adult basic education, traditional post-secondary courses, and technical training. Students can train in hands-on programs like welding technology, which allows them to gain a skill to help prepare them for a better future once released in hopes of reducing recidivism.
“One important thing to remember about why we are so passionate about our correctional education programs at Barton is that most inmates are going to be released at some point and will be living and working alongside us all,” she said. “So, we want to do everything we can to give them tools to ensure they can thrive and live happy and productive lives as well as enrich the lives of their friends, families, and people in their respective communities as best as they can.”