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English professor teaches humanity through literature for Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project

Jamie Marchant

The Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project (APAEP) is an Auburn University initiative that provides education for people who are currently incarcerated across Alabama.

Jamie Marchant, an English lecturer of 24 years at Auburn University, has been involved with the APAEP for seven years. Most important to Marchant is the humanizing impact she hopes her classes have on her students at the APAEP.

"I think teaching literature and creative writing reminds people what it is to be human, and I think that's something that's so badly needed," said Marchant. "You can't make a decent life for yourself if you don't believe you deserve one."

Marchant is incredibly passionate about English composition and literature. In 2017, Marchant was offered the chance to spread that passion outside Auburn's walls. She received an email from the APAEP, asking English literature professors to take a chance on the opportunity.

Marchant is incredibly glad that she did. She describes teaching for the APAEP as a pleasure, rather than a burden.

"I enjoy doing it because the students are so eager. The students are so eager to learn, it's as if they're hungry," Marchant said. "It is so rewarding as a teacher to have students who really, really want to learn what you're teaching. It just feels like you're doing something to make a difference when you teach them."

Marchant also spoke highly of the staff involved in the facilitation of this program, highlighting their dedication, and urges more professors to get involved.

"You'll have the best students you've ever had," Marchant said. "No one class is going to make that much difference. But it can build to a level where somebody who was so dehumanized and believed there really wasn't a way out of the system, can be reassured of their own humanity and willing to see themselves as worthy of a better life."

Find more information about the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project.

Tags: English Faculty Community and Outreach

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