Making a difference

Grant brings full-time teacher to Towaoc detention center

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Tina Galyon, Alicia Whitehead, Scott Baker and Tonya Amrine are working to motivate kids in the juvenile detention facility in Towaoc. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Tina Galyon, Alicia Whitehead, Scott Baker and Tonya Amrine are working to motivate kids in the juvenile detention facility in Towaoc.

Tina Galyon, a Ute Mountain Ute, recently began teaching young detainees at the Chief Ignacio Justice Center in Towaoc.

Oct. 15 was her first day at the juvenile detention center, which is for tribal youth from across the country. The position is funded through a grant obtained by Frank Fastwolf of Fastwolf Consulting of Albuquerque.

Galyon previously taught at the federal facility part-time in the evenings for two years while teaching full-time at Cortez Middle School.

Her main goal is to motivate kids who have given up on education. She wants them to either obtain a high school diploma or pass a General Education Development (GED) test.

She looks to spark some part of them by finding things in which they are interested so that they become lifelong learners.

Scott Baker has worked at the facility, which houses both juveniles and adults, for seven months now. He works with adults and those 17 and older who want to get a GED diploma.

Im aware they have committed a crime, he said. Almost all havent gotten what they needed from education in the past. They have almost a negative reflex against learning. Im looking to re-ignite their curiosity so they can be willing to try.

Baker uses alternative teaching methods. I can teach out of the box, he said. I can come up with anything I want if its going to further their education, This includes such things as movies and music. Lyrics to songs can often be a starting point.

Baker tries to get inmates to read about something that interests them as reading is the No. 1 skill needed for the GED test.

We dont have to discipline, noted Alicia Whitehead, a case manager for the Ute Mountain Ute Education Division. It frees us up to be the good guys. Discipline is provided by correctional officers, who are located close by.

I feel very protected in teaching, Galyon said.

The Ute Mountain Ute tribe pays for the adult education at the facility, and also contributes to the juvenile education.

A young detainee completed her GED diploma earlier this month. She was the first inmate at the facility to do so.

The hope is that the one-year grant, which funds Galyons position, will eventually become permanently funded by the Bureau of Indian Education.

She wants it to become a model for other tribes to replicate.