By Terri Fazio, DOC Education Director
Dean James S. Brown of the College of Liberal Arts at Bloomsburg University has announced that Cathy Pickett from SCI Muncy is the recipient of this year's Dean's Salute to Excellence Award. Pickett has been recognized as one of the University's first partners in delivering college-level instruction to incarcerated students. Brown said Pickett's patient and passionate commitment to this program has been key to the success of the Certificate in Rehabilitative Justice program at the University thus making her the perfect candidate for this year's award.
The Dean's Salute to Excellence Award was established in 1998 and recognizes distinction in the areas of teaching and professional responsibilities, scholarship, and service. Since that time, the college has recognized select individuals each year for their achievements, with selection of faculty based on performance reviews.
Cathy is a graduate of Lycoming College and Bucknell University and has served as the Education Guidance Counselor at SCI Muncy since Nov. 2006. Prior to her "time in jail," Cathy worked as a School Psychologist at North Central STU and as an ABE/GED Teacher at the Clinton County Correctional Facility. She has served as a past adjunct instructor at PA College of Technology and as a past mental health service provider. Cathy enjoys helping to provide statewide Victim Awareness Education training to colleagues and serves as a member of Muncy's Hostage Negotiations Team. She is a member of Oval United Methodist Church and is a weekly volunteer at Clear Vision Treatment Services. Cathy lives in the Loganton area with her husband, Ed. She is the proud "Air Force Mom" of Sterling Pickett.
When questioned about the challenges of being a correctional educator, Cathy writes, "Many adult learners lack an interest in education that most of us take for granted. Their desire to learn or be part of a classroom is nonexistent. Their past attempts at academic success were crushed years prior, by adults who did not believe in their ability or who felt they were unworthy of the time and energy required to help them learn. Getting them to trust in themselves is often an uphill climb. I want to work with instructional staff to spark within our students a hunger for lifelong learning. My desire is deeper than the immediate goals of getting a diploma or a vocational certificate. I certainly celebrate these successes, but I want their experience in the classroom to be a spring board for years of learning. I want to help students cultivate an enthusiasm for learning so that they can bloom into efficacious learners."
Cathy believes that growing successful lifelong learners is certainly possible. She states, "We need to work together to motivate students. We should celebrate where they are on the continuum of learning and allow them to share their expertise so they can gain knowledge from one another. We should develop within them an appreciation for differences in opinions and beliefs and take proactive measures so they feel genuinely welcomed in the classroom setting. We also need to teach them to appropriately advocate for themselves and how to view failures as learning opportunities."