Tony McGuire is the Instructor of Building Maintenance Technology at WWCC’s North Campus, located inside the Washington State Penitentiary. He’s been at WWCC since 2013.
Most important part of the job?
The most important thing I do is to equip inmates with a skill that will let them be successful when they get out, including the “soft skills.” Teaching them how to be employed is a daily conversation. We work on job site etiquette, how to conduct yourself professionally. I uses an ACES approach (Adverse Childhood Experiences), and I teach resiliency, how to get past those experiences so they don’t define us. I also teach them the fundamentals of carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC.
A lot of my students haven’t ever completed much, they’ve been in crime, they’ve been in trouble, so they often didn’t complete high school. Here it’s mandatory for them to complete their GED. There’s a great diversity in abilities and experience levels among the inmates. The program is 20 credits in three months, so they’re studying with me six hours a day.
People should know?
We are trying to help the inmates become good citizens, to give them a chance. Yes, they have made mistakes, but they’re still humans, people that need an opportunity. We understand that we’re not going to save everybody, but some of them will be successful when they are released. I myself come from a high-ACES background, and grew up without a father, although when people see me with my own kids they wouldn’t imagine that. I learned to be calm in the midst of chaos, and I try to pass this on to my students.
I’m 44 and have been married to my high school sweetheart Poppy for 22 years. I was 17 and she was 16 when, on September 2, 1991 at 11:50 p.m. she kissed me! And we’ve been together ever since.
I’m a volunteer with Walla Walla County Fire District 4, I coach with the Sweets Volleyball Club and Little League, and I’m a trainer for the Community Resilience Initiative.
I fish, archery hunt, rifle hunt, do Bluewood ski patrol, and go four-wheeling and camping with my family as much as possible.
My wife Poppy has been a nurse at St. Mary’s for almost 26 years, and our kids are Emma, who’s 14, and Sy, who’s 12.