June 20, 2019
By David Nordby
The Brillion News
GREEN BAY – Not every lesson can be conveyed in a classroom.
At least not the ones that senior students at Brillion High School learned when they recently visited Green Bay Correctional Institution prior to graduation.
It was the third year in a row that social studies teacher Jeff Schlender visited the prison with students. The visit is a part of the prison’s T.R.E.K – Teaching Respect, Educating Kids – program. Under the guidance of staff advisors, inmates present personal testimonials to the students.
“At first, I was a little worried, scared, I guess. You’re going to a prison; you don’t know what to expect,” student Andrew Fischer said.
Schlender first brought students from his college-credit political science course that he teaches through UW-Oshkosh. A documentary titled “Thirteenth” precedes the visit.
“It talks about why we incarcerate people, incarceration policies,” Schlender said.
Things like retribution and rehabilitation are talked about prior to the visit too.
“I thought it was an area that kids in Brillion especially are not very aware of and don’t really think about,” Schlender said.
The inmates aren’t in the program to justify what they did, and students make no contact with the inmates after the visit is completed. No student is forced to attend and a parent permission slip comes with the visit.
“I think it’s pretty real and kids can relate to it rather than me showing them a slideshow about prisons and playing recorded interviews with prisoners, they’re sitting face-to-face,” Schlender said.
The Green Bay prison houses felons who have committed serious crimes and is old – it first opened in 1898. It’s one of five maximum-security prisons in Wisconsin.
Please see the complete version of the story in the June 20, 2019 edition of The Brillion News.