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Academic Peer Education Project

Listing Last Update: June 25, 2018

Location

P.O. Box 492
P.O. Box 492
San Quentin, CA 94964
www.academicpeereducationproject.org

Primary Contact

Ellen Dahlke

(708) 828-6821

ellen.dahlke@gmail.com

Educational services

  • Reading and writing
  • To study for high school equivalency
  • English language
  • Math
  • Volunteer at a Program

Instruction Type

  • Classroom

Program Overview

The Academic Peer Education (APEP) project provides high quality teacher education to men incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison who have earned at least an Associate's degree. These men, in turn, teach college prep literacy and math classes for fellow men in blue who are preparing for the GED.

Mission Statement

APEP's mission is to develop a classroom model that demonstrates how culturally relevant, peer-driven learning can inspire personal and social transformation.

Hours of operation: Tuesday/Thursday 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Student and Volunteer Success Stories

At the age of 21, I was sentenced to state prison for a term of 22 years plus 7 to life for premeditated attempted murder, assault, and 2nd degree robbery. Of the 26 years I received, I have served 22. After spending 17 years in Pelican Bay State Prison Solitary Housing Unit (SHU) and one year at a Level 4 prison, I arrived here at San Quentin in early 2016.

Prior to coming to prison, I only reached the 10th grade of high school. It wasn't until I got to the SHU that my interest in education resurfaced. The SHU didn't provide any program, though, so during my time there, I sought out learning opportunities on my own. I knew for certain that I wanted to get a GED, so that's how I started. It was a struggle trying to teach myself things I didn't know.

In 2008, I acquired my GED. To have that certificate handed to me gave me a real sense of pride and motivated me to want to do more. I suddenly realized that the possibility of spending the remainder of my life in prison didn't have to deter me from striving for a better education and being able to make something of myself. I didn't have to live within the confines of my crime.

In reality, the possibility of furthering my education in the SHU was very slim because of limited access to resources.

Since being here at San Quentin, I've gotten involved in a number of in beneficial programs, one of them being the Academic Peer Education Project (APEP). APEP offers classes taught by inmates and outside volunteers, which makes it very unique. I currently serve as a peer leader/educator, and it was my APEP colleagues who encouraged me to enroll in college. This encouragement is one of the many dynamic aspects of APEP. It provides educational opportunities and support for the youth as well as older men like myself.

Above all, seeing firsthand how education transforms minds and lives is a very rewarding thing. More so, being a part of that transformation has given me a purpose, and with that purpose, I know I will accomplish many things. I can't explain why it took a prison sentence and half of my life to get back on the path of education, but I know I will be better for it. Ultimately, I would hope to be defined by who I am now, rather than what I've done in the past.

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Program Status:
Active