OUR Teachers

All of our instructors, tutors, and guest lecturers donate their time and services to University Beyond Bars. Our stellar faculty consists of professors and graduate students from area universities and community colleges, as well as professional experts. Collectively they donate nearly 1,000 hours per month, an in-kind donation that is valued at over $220,000 per year. We are extremely grateful for their contribution to our program.

"People on the inside and people on the outside are quite similar.  The difference is who gets the opportunities for support and who gets targeted for punishment.  Many people have a very narrow idea of who deserves support.  But our social support systems, including our educational system, have failed a lot of people who end up on the inside.  If we don't provide better educational opportunities for people while they are in prison, it will be harder for them to succeed when they get out." - Gillian Harkins, UBB instructor and University of Washington professor.  Read the full article here.

Education Advisory Committee

In addition to teaching, some of our volunteers are also members of UBB’s Education Advisory Committee. The EAC supports UBB in the areas of teacher training and recruitment, curriculum development, institutional partnerships, and regional coalition building, and it is often the entry point for new UBB teachers. The committee was founded by former UBB Board Chair, Gillian Harkins, who received the 2012 S. Sterling Munro Public Service Teaching Award.  If you are interested in learning more about the EAC or supporting their work, please contact us. The committee is currently co-chaired by Carrie Matthews and Rachel Oppenheim.

WHY I teach

Every semester over 30 teachers donate their services to UBB and since our organization's inception over 150 instructors have volunteered with our program.  We are fortunate to attract faculty from area colleges and universities, including Cornish College of the Arts, Evergreen College, Seattle University, South Seattle College, and the University of Washington. 

Here UBB faculty comment on their experience teaching with UBB:


What prompted you to start volunteering with UBB?

The realization that greater than 70% of state prisoners had not completed high school or GED.  This is the worst educational disparity in the United States. - Jen Arthur, UBB biology instructor for UBB
I wanted to return to teaching, and I wanted to be of service. I was tired of hearing the incredible statistics with respect to incarceration and not doing anything about it. UBB was the perfect fit. - Marc Barrington, South Seattle College. Marc has taught English Prep, English 102, and a literature series for UBB.

What is the most satisfying aspect of teaching for UBB?

The best part has been seeing how UBB and the students have developed over the years. Some of the students who started in my algebra class in 2009 are now leading math classes on their own. - Ed Tellman, UBB math instructor.  Ed has taught a range of UBB math courses including College Prep Math I and Calculus II.
One of the more satisfying aspects of teaching for UBB is the level of interest and enthusiasm.  I am always impressed at students' willingness to ask tough questions and delve deeper into a subject.  I don't always get that enthusiasm for science on the outside. - Natalie Schmidt, University of Washington.  Natalie has taught Introduction to Biology and Environmental Science 150 for UBB.
The most satisfying aspect of teaching in the prison for me is the same as the most satisfying aspect of teaching at a university: giving students genuinely challenging intellectual tasks and helping them develop the abilities to accomplish them. - Carrie Matthews, University of Washington.  Carrie has taught English Prep for UBB.  She also serves on UBB's Board of Directors and Education Advisory Committee.

What is the most challenging aspect of teaching in the prison?

The most challenging aspect is the restriction on computer technology; you cannot use PowerPoint or the internet as teaching tools. - Jen Arthur
I have to ensure that I can adapt any lesson plan to a broad range of experience and education level.  I’ve really had to learn to utilize the concept of differentiated instruction, which I hadn’t always been conscious of prior to teaching with UBB.  On the plus side, my students don’t hesitate to help their peers master the concepts we’re covering.
 Marc Barrington

Can you describe a moment when you saw 'a light come on' in a student's eyes?  

Anytime a student’s eyes open wide, a smile follows, and there’s the exclamation...'I get it!!'.  To reach every single student in this manner is my goal. - Maris Catalano. Maris teaches English Usage & Grammar for UBB. 

I relish seeing my students walk through the difficulties they encounter when drafting or revising their essays to a moment of clarity and satisfaction, when they come through to the other side and say, 'That’s the first academic essay I’ve ever written.  And it’s damn good!' - Marc Barrington

is there anything else you would like to share about teaching for ubb?

I think you can get carried away about how different it is from teaching anywhere else. Once you are past the metal detectors and gates, you’ll be in a classroom full of interested students who are motivated to learn. - Ed Tellman

I experience a high-level of satisfaction teaching at MSU and WSR.  Usually after I’ve taught a class at the prison I’m walking on air for the next day or so.  I’ve made a concrete, measurable difference in a number of men’s lives.  And at the same time, they’ve made a huge difference in mine. - Marc Barrington