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CCI’s Bluffview School Provides Opportunities to Develop Skills
Date: January 13, 2018 03:02PM

CCI’s Bluffview School Provides Opportunities to Develop Skills

Bluffview School is the name of the education program at Columbia Correctional Institution. The mission of Bluffview School is to provide all students the opportunity to develop educational and/or vocational skills consistent with identified needs that enable them to become productive members of the institution, as well as society upon release.

Education Department is comprised of:
Kevin Grahn - Education Director
Tawni Stenberg - Office Operations Associate
Victoria Troemel - Librarian
Todd Blankenship - Vocational Print Technology Instructor
Maria Boettcher - ESL/ABE Instructor
Bob Horstmann - ABE Instructor (Science, Math)
Robert Kean - Custodial Services Instructor
Jeffery Monfort - ABE Instructor (RLA)
Ruth Mui - ABE Instructor (Math)
Brian Quamme - Building Services Instructor
Pam Schmidt - SPED/ABE Instructor
Jen Simpson - SPED/ABE Instructor
Officer Rich Ellett
Sergeant Brian Makuski

The CCI school currently has a total of 109 students enrolled in educational programming with 73 of these being full-time students, 18 enrolled part-time, and 18 that are volunteers. The school operates on a six period day with 50 minute classes. Instructors have a prep period from 7:45-8:45am and at the end of the day from 3:30-4:30pm.

As of December 1 in 2017, CCI has administered 265 GED/GED Ready exams. This number is up from 148 in 2016. This year CCI has had 14 HSED/GED graduates. Across all content areas the pass rate for the GED is at 83%.

The CCI Education Department has implemented several policy and procedural changes to improve the educational experience for its students. An example of this is a recent change to enrollment procedures. The enrollment process now includes inmate interviews by a panel of three education staff where motivation, conduct, and other factors are considered.

CCI currently has three vocational programs (Building Service, Print Technology, and Custodial Services) with a proposal submitted to start a Bakery program. Students in these programs gain valuable job skills that will prepare them for employment upon release or for various institution jobs.

Building Services is a 28 credit Technical Diploma accredited through Madison College. Students in the program also utilize the skills they gained to manufacture various woodworking products that are donated to local charities like the Lions Club and Rape Crisis Center. These items are usually auctioned off and the funds are used to help meet the charities’ missions.

Print Technology program is accredited through Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. Gradates earn a 27 credit Technical Diploma in Print Technology. Highlights of this program include a six week internship where students are exposed to pre-press, print, bindery and distribution operations in Badger State Industries.

CCI’s other vocational program is Custodial Services. Graduates of this program earn a certificate through Madison College. The amount of time to compete this program is shorter than the other two vocational offerings at CCI and the required TABE score is lower. This offers opportunities to inmates at lower math and reading levels. Graduates of this program are employed throughout the institution. Due to staff vacancies and program reaccreditation, there have been only three graduates (2 Printing, 1 Building Services) thus far in 2017. This number anticipated to be much higher moving forward as all of CCI’s vocational programs are now fully staffed.

Aside from their instructional duties, teachers at CCI help out the department and institution in many other ways. Staff in the education department have numerous additional duties and are active inside and outside of the institution. Pam Schmidt is a recent addition to the CEA-Wisconsin Board representing maximum/minimum sites. Jeffery Monfort is an active alderperson on the common council for the City of Portage. Todd Blankenship is on the Incident Management Team. Ruth Mui heads up the correspondence course requests. Brian Quamme oversees many community service projects in his Building Services program. Bob Horstmann is on the EMCC committee and co-facilitates Anger Management groups. Jen Simpson is involved with the Wisconsin Literacy Council and assists with CCI school enrollment. Tawni Stenberg takes the lead in GED test administration and is also responsible for inmate copying where she processes 3,000-4,000 pages of copies per month. Maria Boettcher is responsible for all TABE testing in the institution and co-facilitates an Anger Management group. Robert Kean is rather new to the institution, but has already been working with Madison College to better align the Custodial Services program and is working to add in a class focusing on entrepreneurship.

In addition to what is listed above, it is also important to note that last year several of the teachers from CCI volunteered to assist in a local officer recruitment. They attended various job fairs around central Wisconsin and assisted our Human Resources departments with various tasks. Their efforts led to a successful recruitment effort. CCI was able to fill critical officer and sergeant positions due to their collective efforts.

Education Director Kevin Grahn believes, “There are a lot of positive initiatives going on at our institution and in our department. I look forward to the challenges and growth that 2018 will bring.”

by: Kevin Grahn, CCI Education Director

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