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CEA-Wisconsin Teacher of the Year
Date: March 16, 2011 11:29PM

2011 Teacher of the Year Is a Teacher to the Core

“Marianna is a teacher to the core,” says Bethany O’Day, Northcentral Technical College Associate Dean, ABE/ELL. “She applies her expertise as a teacher with a delicate balance of loving care and high expectations that spurs her students on to achieve what they often thought was impossible.”

The CEA-Wisconsin Executive Board is proud to recognize Marianna Ruprecht, a Northcentral Technical College (NTC) teacher at the Marathon County Jail as the 2011 Wisconsin Correctional Teacher of the Year.

As a full-time instructor at the Marathon County Jail (MCJ) for 21 years, Marianna’s efforts have improved the educational program and enhanced the well-being of thousands of students. Her innovation and pioneering spirit have been evident throughout her career.

Many firsts and notable accomplishments have highlighted Marianna’s career. Marianna was responsible for founding and expanding much of NTC’s jail program. Marianna . . .
• Served as NTC’s first ABE instructor for incarcerated students and one of the first in the state
• Secured NTC’s initial funding for its first correctional education program
• Developed the initial program into a successful model and helped replicate it in four other county jails and a tribal detention center in the NTC district
• Enabled district-wide participation by establishing the first ITV correctional education advisory committee meetings in the state
• Doubled services to incarcerated students at MCJ through a Department of Justice Grant secured in collaboration with jail administration
• Provided facilitation of the district-wide program; coordinated incarcerated youth and jail agreements with record keeping and invoicing; participated in program scheduling, budget development, and grant writing and reporting
• Developed student pride and confidence, provided real-world context for learning, and promoted participation in education by establishing an incarcerated student newsletter
• Connected incarcerated students with their children while increasing reading skills by creating a Holiday Book project conducted in collaboration with the Marathon County Literacy Council
• Motivated students and developed pride and confidence by establishing formal student recognition ceremonies, including caps and gowns, attended by college administration, city and state government representatives, and educational leadership

Marianna is devoted to students, passionate about correctional education, and unceasing in her efforts to support learning among incarcerated students. Garnering resources for her students is a constant focus of Marianna. Over the years, she has recruited more than 12 volunteers to help in the classroom. Her contributions to supporting her students include:
• Removed financial barriers to education faced by incarcerated students by personally establishing an NTC foundation grant
• Secured on-site GED testing and test-fee assistance for incarcerated students
• Provided students with educational materials and bus tokens through a partnership with NTC’s foundation building a relationship with Sunrise fund donors and administering the funds
• Ensured educational continuity and appropriate instruction for incarcerated youth by working closely with the public school system
• Advocated for NTC to provide updated computers and technology and incorporate the jails in their overall computer update cycle for the entire college
• Enabled incarcerated students without Huber privileges to complete post-secondary courses by collaborating with instructors and students
In addition to supporting her students, Marianna has been a leader and mentor with her colleagues. Ways in which she assisted her colleagues include:
• Mentored new correctional education instructors and existing adjunct instructors
• Conducted regular meetings with NTC instructors
• Enhanced correctional instruction across the state and beyond through numerous presentations, the publication of articles; development of resources; and service on curriculum, advisory, and scholarship committees

Because Marianna’s innovations have been so exhaustive, it is impossible to give details on all of them in this article. Instead, details on some of them will be published in future issues of this newsletter and the Parenting Connection newsletter.

Marianna believes, “The primary goal of education is to promote growth – not only academic, but also personal growth. As an instructor it is my job to help students to set goals with high expectations and to provide these students with respect and support to reach these goals. Many incarcerated students have never experienced success. If students feel that an instructor believes in them and treats them with respect, they will work harder to accomplish their goals. Many students have come to me in later years and have said that if it had not been for my belief in them, they would have given up and not have achieved their goals.”

When complimented on her achievements, Marianna often shifts the focus of attention to her students and her community. “It takes a village” is the prevailing theme of her 21 years inside the county jail.

Marianna believes, “Without classroom volunteers, community activists offering the spiritual/ psychological component, NTC support staff of counselor/advisor and employment specialists and NTC and jail administrators who provide financial support dollars for programming, I could not accomplish my goals …What I know is that it takes many devoted and committed individuals to share their time and talent and resources in order to help our inmates break the pattern of decline, and honor who they are as contributing human beings. I value working as a team to turn good ideas into action benefitting students.”

The CEA-Wisconsin Executive Board is pleased to recognize Marianna Ruprecht as the 2011 Wisconsin Correctional Teacher of the Year. Marianna will represent Wisconsin at the Region III & IV CEA Conference in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on May 2-3.

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