By Jean Cowden Moore
Like many young men his age, Daniel Ayala has high hopes for his future. Ayala, a college student with a brilliant smile, wants to be a history teacher.
There’s just one thing holding him back. Right now, Ayala is incarcerated. Image courtesy digplanet.com
But for the past six weeks, Ayala, 18, has been working with a group of nine students at CSU Channel Islands who come to the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility in Camarillo on Thursday and Friday evenings to tutor, teach and mentor about a dozen young men there. They’re tutoring the young men in such basic skills as taking notes and writing a short essay — and giving them advice on college life.
The experience has encouraged Ayala to continue with his college education, he said.
“I like to learn about history — that’s where we come from,” Ayala said, sitting in a classroom on a recent evening, going over an essay with a tutor. “And I like teaching other people. Why learn something and keep it to yourself?”
The Camarillo university introduced the Prison Education Project this year. The project reflects Channel Islands’ focus on service learning, said Lindsay Scott, a lecturer in liberal arts. At Channel Islands, that can take the form of classes in which students do volunteer work that has included monitoring water quality and tutoring elementary students.
The idea of the project is to build empathy and help incarcerated young men get an education, said Scott, who helped organize the program at Channel Islands.