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MCTC supervising teacher earned education

November 27, 2006|by JANET HEIM

Editor's note: There are a lot of people you see around town that you recognize, but don't know anything about. People like ...

Peggy Stanford



Age: 45

Occupation: Supervising teacher at Maryland Correctional Training Center

Hometown: Oil City, Pa.

Where would you see Stanford? As supervising teacher at MCTC, Stanford's responsibilities are similar to that of an assistant principal. She deals with discipline and attendance issues for the 14- to 21-year-old inmates who are required by law to attend MCTC's school while incarcerated.

Stanford and her husband, Bill, moved to Maugansville 10 years ago. A special-education teacher, Stanford worked first for the Washington County Board of Education, then got a job seven years ago at MCTC as a teacher.

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Five years ago, she took the position of supervising teacher. She works with a principal, secretary, librarian and more than 20 teachers, about half of whom teach academics and half who focus on vocational training.

Stanford said their main goal is to help inmates get their GEDs and added that MCTC has one of the highest percentages of inmates who earn GEDs in the state. Having earned a high school degree or its equivalent, inmates can earn college credits through Hagerstown Community College or through distance-learning programs, Stanford said.

She said studies have shown that the more education inmates have, the less chance they have of recidivism.

"To see them do something with their lives, turn their lives around, it's rewarding," Stanford said.

Education has always been important to Stanford. As the youngest of five, she knew she wanted to go to college. Her father worked in a steel mill and she was thinking about college when the steel industry was in a downturn.

Her family couldn't afford to send her to college, but Stanford found another way to get her education - through Job Corps, a U.S. Department of Labor program. The program is mainly residential, providing academic, vocational and life-skills training.

Stanford read about Job Corps in a newspaper and started out in the clerical job training program through Pittsburgh Job Corps, which she completed in six months.

She was persuaded to try college and got her associate degree in child development from the Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, most of which was paid for by Job Corps. A bachelor's degree in child development and a master's in special education followed.

Stanford met her husband while she was teaching in Pennsylvania and earning her certification as a school administrator. They made several moves, including several within their home state, to Arizona and then to Maryland.

A big advocate of Job Corps, Stanford suggested her niece, Melissa, try it. It had the same positive impact on Melissa, who bragged at her local Job Corps center about Stanford's success.

That led to a nomination to the National Job Corps Hall of Fame. Stanford said she never expected it to lead to anything.

Instead, Stanford was the only person nationally inducted into the Hall of Fame for 2006 and received her award and $1,000 cash award at the annual National Conference in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 8. A film crew spent three days filming her life at home, on the job and at Job Corps in Pittsburgh, for a presentation at the conference.

"It was a great experience. I'm proud they thought I'd accomplished enough to deserve it," Stanford said. "I'm not one to spotlight myself. My hope is that parents who have a student in need of job training will read this and encourage them to try the program."

Stanford said the closest Job Corps centers to this area are in Laurel, Md., and Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Hobbies: Besides chasing her 3-year-old daughter, Carly, Stanford said she's a big Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and enjoys doing some crafts and reading in the little free time she has.

What does Stanford like best about Washington County? "I guess the people. The people have been real nice here. I enjoy my neighborhood. We've got the nicest people here," Stanford said of her neighbors on Alpine Drive in Maugansville.

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