Teaching the Entrepreneurial Compass Class at Taft Camp
Since the summer of 2008, I’ve been leading a class at Taft Camp. The 10-week class is called The Entrepreneurial Compass. Scott Evans is a motivational speaker who designed the course, and with the sponsorship of the Chaplain at Taft Camp, Scott began offering the course to inmates. I sat as an observer and participant during the first presentation, and since then I’ve accepted responsibility of leading as the class facilitates. In early January, I began offering the class to the third wave of students.
Each session begins with 30 students, but by the time we finish the class, three to four students have dropped. For prison, a 90 percent retention rate was exceptional. I attributed the reason participants stuck with the class was because it introduced them to strategies that would assist them in leading more fulfilling lives. Although Scott designed the curriculum for the broader community, when leading the course at Taft, I adapted the lesson plan to meet the challenges unique to prisoners.
Many prisoners found it difficult to sustain motivation. They missed their families, their communities, the sense of independence and freedom they had taken for granted as Americans. While serving time in prison, even at a low-pressure facility like Taft Camp, it was easy to slide into patterns of lethargy and loneliness. During the more than 21 years that I’ve served as a prisoner, I developed strategies to conquer those debilitating adjustments and through the course I hoped to motivate other participants.
The first class began with a film Scott played a role in producing. He and his partners called the film Pass It On. Through the use of brief presentations from several motivational speakers, the film expressed the importance of mentoring, setting goals, making plans, fueling passion, living in a state of gratitude, and contributing to the making of better communities. Through each two-hour class, I related these concepts to the unique challenges we all faced as prisoners and suggested steps we could take to apply them to our own adjustments.
In leading the class, I was not only able to pass along strategies I have learned over more than two decades of confinement, I was also able to refine presentation skills that I expected to build my career around upon release. As prisoners, we needed to anticipate the challenges that would await us and create our own strategies to prepare for them. Since I intended to find fulfillment upon release by introducing others to concepts that will help them reach their highest potential, I take advantage of every opportunity to practice communications and inspire others.