Prison University Project: Teaching at San Quentin

Last Update: 7/18/2013 11:51 PM

Hello Peace Corps,

I’m the Math Program Director at The Prison University Project, a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring higher education to incarcerated adults at San Quentin. Every semester we recruit volunteer instructors to teach our pre-college and college level math classes at San Quentin. I noticed on your website that you partner with organizations to provide potential Peace Corps volunteers with teaching experience to make themselves more competitive as applicants. Would it be possible to forward our recruitment notice to your volunteers? There is more information about our program on our website: and I am also happy to send you more information should you need it.

Our program is an adult education program, but the pre-college math curriculum covers topics from 1st-8th grade (arithmetic), pre-Algebra, and Algebra 1. Our college math curriculum covers Intermediate Algebra, Statistics, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus. The college level classes require an advanced degree, but the only requirement for teaching the pre-college math classes is a Bachelor's degree. In fact, many of our instructors are professionals and not teachers.

Our students are highly motivated and incredibly gracious for the opportunity to learn math and eventually earn a college degree. Many teachers describe the classes as a “dream” teaching experience because the students are so dedicated and hungry to learn. Our classes are a great place for prospective teachers to gain classroom experience. All of our teaching/tutoring positions are volunteer and require a commitment of one class per week.

Thank you in advance for your assistance!

The College Program at San Quentin State Prison is seeking instructors to co-teach several Math courses for the Fall 2013 semester. Teachers typically teach one evening per week. Math classes are held on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. The College Program relies entirely on volunteer instructors so these positions are unpaid, but would provide prospective teachers with the opportunity to gain valuable teaching experience. The various courses cover math from about first grade (arithmetic) to eighth grade (pre-algebra), Algebra 1, College Algebra, Statistics, and Pre-Calculus. Most students who enter the program need at least some pre-college math review before moving on to the college algebra course. The Fall semester begins in early September and runs through December 20th.

The College Program is supported by the Prison University Project, a non-profit organization whose mission is to support this program, promote prison higher education state- and nationwide, and to stimulate public awareness about criminal justice related issues. The Program receives no state or federal funding and relies entirely on donations from individuals and foundations. It is an extension site of Patten University in Oakland.

The Program provides college preparatory classes in math and English, as well as college credit classes in the humanities, social sciences, math, and science, leading to an Associate of Arts degree in liberal studies, to over 330 students at the prison. To enroll in the program, students must hold at least a high school diploma or GED. Most teachers find the College students to be highly motivated and dedicated to doing well in their classes.

Most instructors with the program are graduate students or faculty from UC Berkeley, San Francisco State, University of San Francisco, Sonoma State, and Stanford. To be an instructor for the pre-college classes volunteers must hold at least a Bachelor’s degree in any discipline. Those with an education background or previous teaching or tutoring experience are strongly encouraged to apply, but volunteers interested in gaining teaching experience will also be considered. Regular support, feedback, and opportunities for professional development will be available to support individual instructor growth.

Anyone who is interested in teaching this fall should please respond to Please include a cover letter and CV.

Attendance at an orientation session is required for anyone teaching this Fall. People who are simply interested in learning more about the program are also welcome to attend.

Finally, anyone who is interested in teaching but unable to attend the training, please do get in touch anyway! Or, if you are interested in working with the College Program but can’t commit to a teaching position, we are also recruiting for study hall tutors, study group coordinators, teaching assistants, and special education specialists.

Feel free to forward this message to any individuals, institutions, or listservs that you think might be interested.

With best regards,

Regina Guerra

Math Program Director

Prison University Project

Cell: 415.295.5929

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