Meet James Ferguson, a Youth Development Coach at the Ron Jackson campus. We’re featuring him today as part of our continuing recognition of National Correctional Officers Week.
Youth Development Coach
Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex
He recently participated in the Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) practitioner training, a program designed to meet the complex needs of children who have experienced adversity, early harm, toxic stress or other trauma. And while he knew the course would be helpful for him on the job, he also finds that the skills he has learned very much apply to another important part of his life: being a better father to his two-year-old son.
“Using the tools I’ve been given here at work is going to help me with my family life,” he says. “I’m better able to be there for my son and support him in the ways I need to.”
Ferguson first joined TJJD in 2012. Then, after two-year stint in Colorado, he rejoined the agency in 2019. In the relatively short time he was away, he was pleasantly surprised by some of the differences that had taken place, most notably by the implementation of the Texas Model.
“I think there are good things involved with the Texas Model,” he says. “When it first rolled out, I was kind of skeptical, and I wasn’t alone. But giving us the ability to connect with these kids instead of mainly focusing on corrections, and allowing us to come in and coach them and build these better connections with them compared to the previous program is a nice change.”
It’s an approach he hopes the people of Texas will understand. “There’s a big misconception out there about what we do, and I want people to know that we are focused on rehabilitation with trauma-informed care.”
When asked what keeps him coming to work every day, he says he’s always enjoyed working with young people. “It’s nice to come in and try to help make a difference in their lives. They’ve been through a lot of hard things. We’re trying to connect with them and build trust. If I can do that, I’ll know I’ve made a difference.”
- John McGreevy, TJJD Communications