Interview With George Earl

From the interview with George Earl of Port Townsend conducted by Carter Huth on December 23, 2004. Mr. Earl was a teacher at the Fort Worden Juvenile Diagnostic and Treatment Center. Mr. Earl died in 2006. Here he discusses what it was like to teach the Center’s residents:

“It was a learning curve that really opened my eyes. They don’t teach that kind of thing in a college teacher’s program. You learn an awful lot by experience. …As the name implies the school program was divided into two sections. There were those young folks who were here under a diagnostic program and they were very restricted, they were not allowed out without someone with them. They did have a class program and that’s where I started teaching. The treatment kids were assigned here after their diagnostic work for treatment. They lived in cottages, had pretty much free roam back and forth between their classrooms and the cottages and nobody was walking arm in arm with them… The diagnostic kids were really tightly controlled. We would see how they performed, reacted, under a classroom type situation with assignments, homework, things of that nature. Then we would sit with the other people who were involved, social workers, psychologists, cottage parents and the cottage board and collectively make the decision where this child ought to go next. It might be the treatment center here, it might even be back home under certain circumstances, or it might have been a tougher situation at Green Hill or the state detention. It was a very interesting situation. You don’t have any parents number one, you just got the kid. You got to dig through his files and reports to learn about him. Many of them came from very difficult situations and backgrounds, it was eye-opening. I thought I was a good judge of students but I got conned out of my shoes, I had to learn. (The teachers) learned a great deal more than we did in undergraduate and graduate school…I always thought the state should not have done away with it (the Center) but they had to make some budgetary changes…the evolution changed and so they did. Port Townsend was down again when the Diagnostic and Treatment Center left.”

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