2018 Region 3 Teacher of the Year Candidates
Orville House - Indiana
Randy Kowalski - Wisconsin
Branchville Correctional Facility
Indiana Department of Correction
“His strategies and motivation to better our program keeps everyone in the department interested and guessing on what Mr. House would think of next. However, I must confess, sometimes it was a bit scary at times.” Janet Drach- ABE Instructor Branchville Correctional Facility
Hi, my name is Orville House. I’m an ABE/HSE instructor for Oakland City University at Branchville Correctional Facility. I have been teaching in the Indiana Department of Correction for five years, and I can truly say I have enjoyed every moment. Although in 2008 I set out to become an elementary educator, I know that Correctional Education is my true calling. My goal is to touch as many offenders as I can throughout my career here in the IDOC. I try to create lifelong learners out of students who often times want nothing to do with education.
The main struggle in any classroom is student motivation. I try to think of ways to change the norm. One way I motivate students is through my classroom instruction. For example, I wanted the student to enjoy math as much as I do, so I developed a math lesson for graphing where we made a huge coordinate grid on the floor. I found they liked it and I wanted to use it all the time. So, I moved all the furniture out of my classroom and drew a coordinate grid on the tile with markers and then we waxed over it to make it permanent.
As part of my efforts to improve my classroom I have become a better teacher and received the teacher of the year for ICJA in 2017. Beyond the regular classroom duties, I voluntarily teach Bible study in the evenings to the offenders at Branchville. I have also presented at IAACE and CEA conferences in to 2017.
Randy Kowalsky, ABE Instructor
Northern Woods School
Jackson Correctional Institute
Wisconsin Department of Corrections
Since life is a constant lesson I tend to teach as I live by meeting people where they are at, facilitating them in their journey, and embracing technology as an equalizer.
Southern Oaks Girls School was my first teaching assignment after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a Master in Education and Professional Development in 1994. While working at a juvenile facility offered many unique challenges, it also afforded many opportunities. I took full advantage of the unique visual, auditory, interactive characteristics technology offered to at-risk students by developing practical applications to facilitate the learning process. These applications and lessons were shared with educators throughout corrections in the form of Computer Based Instruction training and web page designer/master for CEA-Wisconsin. Southern Oaks experiential environment offered a balance between formal and informal learning by including a high ropes challenge course - which I earned my certified in, and the nation’s first incarcerated Girls Scout program – integrating educational programming for badge opportunities.
My strong ties to family and community acted as a catalyst for Shawn (wife) and I to relocate to the Black River Falls area in 2010. I transferred to Jackson Correctional, an adult median institution, and continued to offer peer mentoring through Smart Board, Rachel, and Competency Based Education instructional training. Within three years I was certified through Western Wisconsin Technical as an Adult Basic Educator at Jackson Correctional where I’ve taught a variety of subjects including employability skills, health, math, and social studies.
Our family has remained involved in church activities - Sunday school instruction and fundraising events, Boy Scouts – hosting and chaperoning activities, International Student Exchange program - parent sponsors, and outdoor adventures - camping, hunting, hiking, kayaking, and biking.