KYLE, Texas (KXAN) — A Central Texas correctional facility has a literacy program underway — reaching out to three different groups in the community to promote reading and writing, as well as lessons for life.
Senior warden Bernadette Rodriguez and staff at the Kyle Correctional Center are recognizing and celebrating the 40th anniversary of their facility’s Management and Training Corporation, or MTC.
For the milestone, they’re focusing efforts to change lives in key areas. For their first quarter, the center of attention is literacy.
The correctional center officially kicked off its literacy program this month and has book drives lined up for three significant places south of Austin:
- Texas Juvenile Justice Department in San Antonio, Texas
- Tom Green Elementary in Buda, Texas
- The Philomena Retirement Home in Kyle, Texas
Significance behind the groups
The Kyle Correctional Center started its first quarter with goals to reach out to a local school (pre-K through fifth grade), a juvenile detention center and a local nursing home — impacting all generations.
Staff visited the juvenile detention center first, stopping by last week. It came up with a list of books, bought them and donated it to the site. The minors detained at the center also submitted questions to the adult inmates related to literacy. The latter recorded their responses and shared them back.
Staff hopes that by improving the ability to read and write, they can promote health and positive lifestyle changes to the juveniles — a way for them to become productive adults while providing an escape from daily challenges.
“Some of our inmates here, they expressed how they grew up in troubled homes. They struggled through their younger lives and some of them spending time in a juvenile detention center. So, when we shared that with the juvenile youth, it was very impactful to them. You could tell that it grasped their attention because they’re hearing about somebody that was once in their shoes,” Rodriguez said.
“Giving back to the community is what corrections is somewhat about … Just watching them blossom and come back to society, becoming productive members of society and watching them get back to the community is an awesome thing. It’s rewarding in the end,” said Amanda Davilla, the correctional center’s major.
Next week the correctional center plans to visit a local elementary school and local retirement home.
Why focus on kids and seniors
At Tom Green Elementary in Buda, correctional center staff will read books to students as well as donate some to the school. Their goal is to provide the children with imaginative adventures to take their minds off the pandemic while promoting literacy, improving vocabulary, spelling and other communication skills.
At Philomena, staff will share voice and video recordings of inmates reading and speaking about literacy to seniors, including short stories, skits and more. They will also donate books to the retirement home, where senior living staff will pick up the materials outside.
The correctional center hopes they can assist elderly citizens in remaining optimistic during the pandemic.
“I would imagine that they’re going through the same challenges that we’re going through — limited visits from their family, children, grandchildren — so that’s an area we wanted to impact. Some of our inmates here came up with the idea of also being a positive influence to senior citizens that may be blind,” Bernadette Rodriguez said.
Beyond impacting those three places, inmates and staff are also working to improve their own literacy. Inmates at the correctional center will participate in a reading competition, and the facility will host a spelling bee next month. The top three winners will receive a book of their choice.
For the next three quarters in order, the Kyle Correctional Center will focus on making a difference when it comes to hunger, mental illness and pain caused by homelessness. You can learn more about the private state prison on its webpage.