New Castle News


August 29, 2013

New Castle teachers working with young jail inmates

NEW CASTLE — New Castle teachers are educating youths charged as adults and housed in the Lawrence County jail.

District teachers are providing classroom instruction with the goal of the younger inmates receiving a high school diploma or attaining their GEDs — General Education Development certificate, the equivalent of a high school diploma.

The district is responsible for providing the education at the jail, because that facility lies within the school district boundaries, superintendent John Sarandrea explained.

Inmates under 21 years old are eligible and are given the instruction only if they desire it, he said.

If an incarcerated juvenile is from a school district outside the city and opts to take advantage of the program, that district must reimburse New Castle for that education, Sarandrea said.

Jennifer Salem, a jail treatment counselor who helps coordinate the program, praised New Castle teachers.

“They go above and beyond to help these people,” she said. “A lot of people kind of forget about these kids. New Castle does a phenomenal job.”

The jail has set aside its treatment facility as a makeshift classroom, complete with a television and dry-erase board, where the learning goes on daily.

Right now, 10 inmates are enrolled, the youngest being 17, Salem said.

They are escorted from the cell area to the classroom and taught all the courses they need to graduate. Those include math, reading, English, social studies and science.

“We do an under-21 report for anyone who comes into the jail,” Salem explained. “We talk to them about the school and we sign them up for school and fax the information to the district’s administration building and get them into classes.

“The teachers work with the students on a daily basis, get their transcripts, see where they were with their grades and help them.”

When the students have enough credits to graduate, they get diplomas or, depending on their age, a GED, she explained.

Two of the jail’s students recently received New Castle school district diplomas, she said.

Currently, the jail has 21 inmates who are younger than 21, Salem said. Two of those already have diplomas and the others already have GEDs or diplomas from other schools.

Of the 10 who are left, “no one said no to school,” she said. “Everybody wanted it.”

Earlier this month, the New Castle school board approved the prison education program for the 2013-14 school year and hired four teachers and two substitutes at a rate of $20 per hour. The instructors are Mark DeMonaco, Geri Hobel, Ralph Litrenta and Robert Natale Jr. The substitutes are Ronald DePorzio and Tom Black. The program at the jail began Monday.

Salem said the New Castle teachers “treat the kids with a lot of respect. I can’t say enough positive about how well New Castle works with us.

“If we can help these students, it’s one step closer to doing something positive with their lives,” she said. “We try to get them on the right track so they can move forward instead of backward.”

Inmates older than 21 also have a shot at an education, Salem noted. They can earn a GEDs through a different agency that works with the jail.

“They could be in their 70s and still get a GED.”


Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Yauger.jpg Yauger’s Mercer County trial on hold

    A pending criminal trial for the former Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV executive director has been continued again in Mercer County.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yauger.jpg Yauger now facing federal charge

    With Mercer County court proceedings pending this week, Cecelia Yauger faces federal prosecution for alleged business credit card misuse.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg New Castle board adopts budget despite uncertainty

    The New Castle school board adopted its 2014-15 budget Monday but may have to re-open it next week. The $5.4 million budget, introduced in May, has no tax increase and will not tap into the fund balance. Taxes remain at 17.72 mills.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Todora.jpg Board, staff bids farewell to superintendent

    Dr. Mary Todora will retire Monday from the Neshannock school district. “I remember eight and a half years ago when Dr. John Dietz (then-board president) called to tell me I got the job. I was thrilled,” Todora said at her final board meeting.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rich.jpg Vo-tech administrators get bonuses, no raises

    Lawrence County Career and Technical Center administrators will get one-time bonuses instead of raises next year. The joint operating committee approved one-year agreements that would freeze the salaries of director Leonard A. Rich and the principal, head custodian, cafeteria supervisor and computer technician.

    June 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • FrankAloi.jpg Frank Aloi: 50 years of school spirit in Ellwood City

    Frank Aloi is a true Wolverine. Aloi, who turned 73 Friday, spent the past half-century affiliated with the Ellwood City school district and its sports teams.

    June 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • FrankAloi.JPG Frank Aloi Retiring: Ellwood superintendent leaving amid budget woes

    Frank Aloi is retiring next month as Ellwood City’s superintendent of schools. Aloi, a 50-year district employee and its superintendent for nearly 12, submitted his retirement notice to the board during an executive session prior to Thursday’s meeting. His last day is July 16.

    June 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg District mulls building sale options

    The New Castle school district is considering selling its three recently closed buildings through a sealed bid process.

    June 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Perfect.jpg Your Education: Shenango grad never missed a day

    They say nobody’s perfect. But for 13 years, Jenna DiGiammarino certainly was. When Jenna left last night’s commencement ceremonies at Shenango High School, she did so not only with a diploma in hand, but also with a flawless record of attendance dating back to Day One of kindergarten.

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • 03.jpg Photo Gallery, Story: Three New Castle schools close today for good

    Today is bittersweet for New Castle Area School District elementary students and teachers. Three buildings packed with history as longtime learning institutions are closing their doors for good.

    June 5, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads

"State Fair" opens at the New Castle Playhouse tonight. Will you be checking out the show?

Definitely! I've already got my tickets.
Maybe. I'm not sure.
Nah, it's not for me.
     View Results