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Teachers Bring Lessons To Students Behind Bars

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Travis Doolin teaches class at the Oklahoma County Jail. Travis Doolin teaches class at the Oklahoma County Jail.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

Twenty-two students attend Todd Mihalcik's class at the Oklahoma County Jail.

"It's an investment in your time. You're investing your time. You're investing your energy."

Four inmates, all charged with murder, learn more than math and reading, whether they know it or not.

"We work with a lot of basic character traits. Some of those classic building blocks of character. And as much as we like to say ‘Hey, these kids should have already learned that," I think we all know in the kind of environments they come from they're lucky if they get shoes or food," Mihalcik says.

Some might say it's a waste of money and resources, but not Travis Doolin, another teacher.

"If we don't do anything to rehabilitate them or to make them better, then we are accepting what the consequences are going to be," he says.

It's all about breaking a deep-rooted cycle.

"Their grandfather was in jail. Their father was in jail. Now, they're in jail. You have to break the cycle and, if you can show one that learning is the key, is the key to success… If they can learn, then they can go back and help somebody else by the testimony of their life," Doolin says.

These two teachers believe through academics, they can steer these kids to a better life.

"Those larger degrees of human growth. Because, in many ways, that's what we are doing. We're helping save souls, people," Mihalcik says.

These teachers say this isn't empty talk; the proof is in the results. Some of their students go on to get their GEDs, diplomas and become productive members of the community.

1/30/2012 Related Story: Beyond The Bell: OKC Public Schools Chief Talks About The Future

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