Updated: Oct 23, 2019
For the last two months, a Salisbury University student and resident of Wicomico County, Bassnt Wahba, has been teaching the inmates of Wicomico County Detention Center.
She is a mother of two kids, has a bachelor's degree in math and is in the process of obtaining a master’s degree in English.
When asked why she chose a master’s degree in English, Wahba explained her future aspirations.
“My goal is to be a professor at Salisbury University,” Wahba said.
While working for the Education Department at Wor-Wic Community College, she teaches General Education Development and English as a Second Language classes, otherwise known as GED and ESL, that focus on English and math.
After being asked to teach in jail on behalf of the Adult Continued Education program, she decided on the Wicomico County Detention Center.
“It’s a new thing to do,” Wahba said.
Wahba teaches her students for up to three hours most days of the week in order for them to achieve their General Education Development diploma.
The satisfaction she receives from being a teacher is what drives her to help. Her class at the detention center consists of six students ranging from ages 18 to 30.
Upon entering the classroom, Wahba's day is a bit different than for that of your average teacher. Wahba explained such differences in revealing the minimal amount of supplies she is allowed to bring in.
“When you walk through, they search you. You cannot have anything with you, not even your purse," Wahba said. "Just a book and your lesson plan."
In her description of her lesson plans, Wahba highlights that she normally opens with the teaching of math. Wahba's teaching revolves around explanation of topics, followed by examples and then encouraged group work.
Wahba finds patience to be an important virtue when working with the inmates. She is always willing to delve deeper into subjects further if need be.
"I give them more exercises and answer any questions so they understand everything,” Wahba said.
She explained how not only are there classes offered, but also tutoring sessions to allow the individuals to be able to fully grasp the concepts. These Adult Continued Education programs offer a second chance to many misguided young adults.
Wahba stated how “At the beginning, some students came to chat or have fun with their classmates." She went on to explain the these students ended up quitting the program.
Wahba emphasized that her current students that have stuck with the program “have a goal, are smart and want to change. They want to have some sort of certificate to work and have a decent job.”
Providing struggling individuals with a degree allows them to be able to effectively reform into society. Legal economic opportunities provided by a degree deter individuals with previous convictions from resorting back to crime due to having a means to support oneself with.
Most of Wahba’s students are young adults of similar ages to students at Salisbury University who are changing and just want a second chance.
One experience that stuck with her was seeing a student who struggled in mathematics continuously meet with a tutor during one-on-one sessions in order to learn the fundamental topics of the material covered. The determination of her students gives her the confidence of their success in the class and long-term goal of earning a degree.
“Adult Continued Education is a very good program. People there are working so hard, and if anyone needs to register in the program, it will help,” Wahba said.
By JACK FIECHTNER
Featured photo by Caroline Streett Images.