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His work with inmates adds up to success

December 13, 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 ...

George Keefer



Age: 57.

Occupation: Correctional teacher at Maryland Correctional Training Center.

Hometown: Williamsport.

Where would you see Keefer? After more than 33 years as a math teacher at MCTC, it's safe to say Keefer is comfortable in front of a classroom of students. As one of two teachers who operate the GED program, Keefer has helped 4,700 inmates earn their GEDs in his tenure there.

This year has been filled with recognition for Keefer's efforts.

He was nominated for Washington County Teacher of the Year in the private school category and was awarded the "Spirit of Correctional Education Award" for 2006 by the Director of Correctional Education at Maryland State Department of Education.

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Keefer was also named Teacher of the Year for 2007 by the Correctional Education Association-Region II, which includes Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., West Virginia and Virginia.

He admits he was embarrassed at first, but appreciates the pat on the back.

"It felt satisfying that someone recognized the work I've done over the years," Keefer said.

The 1967 graduate of Williamsport High School got his undergraduate degree in mathematics education from University of Maryland, College Park, in 1971. He earned a Masters of Education from Shippensburg in 1976.

After college, Keefer wanted to teach high school math - algebra 2, trigonometry and calculus. Instead, he taught for six months at E. Russell Hicks Middle School before taking a job at MCTC.

Keefer said he finds his job satisfying, especially when working with inmates who work hard to get their GEDs. He has had students as young as 15 and some in their 60s, with the target age being 18- to 25-year-olds.

Inmates are placed in different groups depending on ability and those working on GEDs are the highest high school level.

"Once in the GED level, they can see a goal in front of them," Keefer said.

Many of Keefer's students say the educational system has made a difference in their lives. While he may teach classes with 15 inmates, he said most of his time is spent doing individualized teaching.

Keefer said he enjoys graduation, which is held in April and October.

"They get so excited. Some guys dance around the room, some shed tears. It's a time to share with family," Keefer said of the graduating inmates.

Keefer and his wife of 35 years, Debra, met in high school. They live in Williamsport and have two adult sons.

Hobbies: Keefer said he likes to read, exercise daily, including walks on the C&O Canal, and doing yardwork.

He added that he is a Sunday School teacher at Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren.

What does Keefer like best about Washington County? "I like that it's not so crowded. I like not being tied up in traffic," Keefer said.

He likes the mountains and the scenery in general and said there are a lot of interesting places in Washington County.

If you know anyone in the community who might make an interesting Our Town feature, contact Janet Heim at 301-733-5131, ext. 2024 or e-mail janeth@herald-mail.com.

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