Teaching Behind Bars

Grace Anne McKenna, Editor in Chief

Mrs. Harclerode, known for her style and great sense of humor, is a Global and Sociology teacher at Wantagh High School. Recently, her family experienced a change.

After teaching at Clarke High School for 27 years Joe Harclerode, Mrs. Harclerode’s husband, now teaches a variety of subjects to inmates at the Nassau County Jail in East Meadow.

Mr. Harclerode has been working in the jail for one year. Prior to this job, he taught English and coached boys’ varsity basketball and boys’ varsity volleyball. He is currently the assistant coach for the Sayville boys’ varsity basketball team. Working in the East Meadow School District made him eligible for a position in the jail. Mr. Harclerode had been waiting for a few years for an opening and did not hesitate when taking it. Although he enjoyed working at Clarke, he was ready for a change and has no intentions of returning to the high school.

The average age of his students ranges from 18 to 20. The main goal of of many of them is to receive their high school diploma, or GED, General Education Development. Others just come to expand their knowledge and further their education, since the class is optional.

Mrs. Harclerode says that this experience has affected her family by giving them a greater perspective that young adult males still crave to learn.

Mr. Harclerode’s challenge is helping kids who are going through hard times and who don’t have many opportunities to improve themselves intellectually.

“It is voluntary, they don’t have to go down to learn,” says Mrs. Harclerode. “Since so many show up everyday, it seems that he is doing a good job and they are responding well to him.”

Mrs. Harclerode supports her husband and approves of his career choices. She knew that he wanted a challenge and a change. Even though, she said that working in the jail would not be an environment that she would want to work or be successful in.

When asked if she worries about her husband when he goes to work, Mrs. Harclerode replied by saying no, he’s a big man (6-feet 6-inches tall) and that he is not worried at all. There is security and strict rules that must be followed.

“I am always proud of him,” says a proud Mrs. Harclerode. “He is a great teacher and has a great reputation. He works hard for our family, which I really appreciate.”