Phillips State Prison Education Officer Recognized
Tereska Watkins assigned to recently opened Charter High School
When the Foothills Education Charter High School opened at Phillips State Prison (SP) in October 2017, it was evident to all that Officer Tereska Watkins was the obvious choice to serve as the program’s Education Officer, as she consistently ensured 100% accountability and attendance of the offenders assigned to the classes she monitored.
“Officer Watkins is a true example of the Phillips State Prison motto; she displays Passion, Selfless Service and Professionalism for her job,” said Philips SP Warden, Ahmed Holt. “While the offenders must possess the desire to participate, officers like Watkins play a vital role in ensuring they get to classes prepared and on time,” added Holt.
During preparations for the Charter High School opening, Officer Watkins spent her extra time providing orientation to the arriving students, ensuring they knew what to expect at Phillips SP. In addition, she ensured that all assigned students arrived to school on time and were prepared to learn.
Officer Watkins motivates the offenders by encouraging them to report to class on time and congratulates them when they do well. She also builds them up in difficult moments reminding them that “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today,” a quote by Malcolm X. Officer Watkins also provides excellent customer service to staff and offenders, and consistently displays a very positive attitude.
In May 2016, Officer Watkins began her career with the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) at Phillips SP as a cadet. Upon graduation of Basic Correctional Officer Training (BCOT), she was assigned to the education department as an Education Officer.
"If we can change the mindset of these students, we can make a difference,” said Watkins, “They are going to return to society one day, and it is our job to best prepare them for success.”
Prior to 2015, GDC could only provide offenders GED programming. Now, GDC has the ability to offer offenders, under the age of 21, the chance to obtain a high school diploma through the partnership with Foothills. The agency also has Charter High Schools at Lee Arrendale SP in Alto, Ga. and Burruss Correctional Training Center in Forsyth, Ga.