MTC Correctional Facility Resident Teaches Spanish

It’s nothing unusual for classes to be taught in a correctional facility. In fact, it’s the norm. Certainly, that’s the case at MTC facilities. But at the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility in Woodville, Mississippi, in one classroom, there’s a twist: Staff members are students, and the instructor is a facility resident. It’s a Spanish class.  And it came to be because one resident had an idea.“Well, it was a vision of Luis Lebron,” explains Tracey Arbuthnot, programs director of the facility.

“And he came to me and he asked – he proposed- that we start a Spanish class for staff. And he wrote everything down, and he gave it to me, presented it to me; and he was very passionate about it, he wanted more staff to be able to speak his language. So, I took it to the warden, and, of course, he approved it, and we went on and started the class.”

Wilkinson Spanish Class Still
Luis Garcia-LeBron, Wilkinson resident

Scott Middlebrooks, now at a different MTC facility, was the Wilkinson County warden at the time. “The staff came together,” says he, “and asked if it would be okay for them to hold a Spanish class in the evenings, after work, and allow an inmate to be the instructor. I thought it was a great idea, and the staff have embraced it and they really enjoy it.”

“I feel very good that the staff here want to learn my language,” states resident instructor, Luis Garcia-LeBron. “Because the truth is, they learn very quickly.”

Branton Lewis is the lead instructor at the facility. “He does an excellent job at teaching.” “He breaks it down, he makes sure everyone knows what’s happening before he moves on to the next step. If one person in the class doesn’t really get it, he’s going to work with that person. So, I love that energy about him.”

“And the truth is,” Luis says, “that makes me very happy to know that they’re learning Spanish and that they like the language.”

And what of the fact that the instructor is a resident of the facility? Mr. Lewis has a quick answer.

“It makes me feel good because we look at people as being human beings.”

Wilkinson Spanish Class Still
Luis Garcia-LeBron, Wilkinson resident