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Chris Lawyer


Johanna Boss High School/O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility

Up to 247 and counting! That’s the number of Microsoft Office (MOS) Certifications that students in Chris Lawyer’s computer class at Johanna Boss High School have earned since 2008. These students are incarcerated at O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton. “I couldn’t figure it out, but the kid sitting next to him can figure it out,” said Lawyer, who has taught there since 1989.

Lawyer said it’s that type of camaraderie that allows rival gang members to sit side-by-side and help each other out while bettering themselves.

Students like Andrew Snow, who has achieved Master certification and is now Lawyer’s student aide, earn money that he can use when he heads to college in the fall. Snow, who has been at the correctional facility for three-and-a-half years, is scheduled to be released next month.

“Everything I learned here, I know I can use out there,” the 21-year old said.

Lawyer emphasized that some of these students had never even used a computer when they arrived. He said there are three levels of certification: MOS, Expert, and Master.

Snow is one of just nine students in Lawyer’s six-year program to achieve Master status. Lawyer said his aide has answered questions that even he, the teacher, couldn’t answer!

“The biggest thrill for me is the kid who nobody thought he could do this, or anything for that matter, and he gets Microsoft certified,” Lawyer added.

Lawyer said he’s proud of the small contributions he has made in his student’s lives.

Snow said he will never forget time spent in this classroom and the computer and life lessons he’s learned.

Submitted By: Joe Orlando, OPEC Public Information Officer, CDCR