WUOMFM

Catholic nun describes 30 years of teaching literature at men's prison

Oct 12, 2015

Credit Courtesy Siena Heights University

A Roman Catholic nun living in Adrian has been teaching literature to male prisoners at Gus Harrison Correctional Facility for nearly 30 years.

"They were engaged. They were passionate. They had read the book. They wanted to talk about it," said Sr. Pat Schnapp, associate professor of English at Siena Heights University. "And my teacherly heart just took off and I was hooked from that point on. I thought, 'I always want to do this in my life.'"

"What's really interesting it that no matter how far an experience is in a short story probably from the men's experience – many are from Detroit, many were in gangs – they have an uncanny ability to find something in the story that they can relate to in their own lives and that they can talk about. And they love to discuss the story," says Schnapp. 

Students from the criminal justice department at the university can sign up for a class that takes place inside the prison led by Sister Schnapp.

"Our students get dismantled, the negativity, and realize these men are smart, some of them are very funny and they come to realize we can't define a person by the worst thing he ever did."

Listen to the full interview above.