Student inmates in the Carpentry Program at SCI Phoenix recently completed a shed building project as part of their final graduation requirements. Nine students worked collaboratively to build a 10-foot by 8-foot shed and applied their learned skills in floor layout, wall construction, roofing, stair design and door and window installation. They also installed drywall, suspended ceilings, trim, cabinets and thermal moisture protection.
The project was made available through a partnership between the DOC and the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), a non-profit education foundation created in 1996 with the support of construction industry and academic leaders. Sharing the common goal of developing a safe and productive workforce, the stakeholders created a standardized training and credentialing program for the industry which has been implemented in many correctional facility vocational programs statewide.
“It is another example of the important work our educators are doing in corrections to support inmate reentry, combat recidivism, and ultimately provide for safer communities while meeting skilled labor demands,” said Matthew Schwenk, corrections school principal. Ivan Markley, carpentry program instructor, was instrumental in developing the project, despite challenges presented by the pandemic.
SCI Phoenix currently provides vocational training in Carpentry, Building Maintenance, Warehouse Operations, Barbering and Business. In addition, six academic teachers prepare incarcerated students to earn their Commonwealth Secondary Diploma or GED. “A focus on teamwork and service opens windows of opportunity for everyone involved,” Schwenk remarked.