Prison. That is where Dale Griffith, associate professor of English at Middlesex Community College, enjoyed some of the best learning experiences she could ever have hoped for.
Not as an inmate, of course; but as a full-time teacher at York Correctional Institute, Connecticut’s only women’s prison. That was Dale’s first full-time job after graduating from Wesleyan University (on full scholarship) where she received a bachelor’s degree in English, with a dual concentration in medieval literature and women’s studies. Dale transferred to Wesleyan after earning her associate’s degree from Middlesex Community College.
While at York, Dale focused on helping the women prisoners find their voices through composition. Eventually, she returned to Wesleyan to pursue her master’s degree (while continuing to work full time) – and ultimately wrote about her experiences at York in her 100-page master’s thesis. Later, she worked with New York Times best-selling author Wally Lamb to produce a book of stories written by York’s prisoners (her former students). The book, “Couldn’t Keep It to Myself: Testimonies of our Imprisoned Sisters,” was published in 2003 to glowing reviews. An unexpected and unpleasant aftermath prompted Dale to resign from her position at the prison and move south, where she taught at College of the Albemarle, a community college in Elizabeth City, NC.
Homesick for New England, Dale returned to Connecticut and to her part-time teaching position at MxCC (she taught English composition at MxCC briefly before moving to York). Ultimately, a full-time position opened and Dale was hired.
Dale began her academic career at Middlesex Community College as a student in her 30s, as a single mother of three, and as someone who finally was able to take the opportunity to return to college. She was mentored and inspired by several seasoned professors including Rino Pettiross and Jean Smith – two remarkable influences who played a strong role in helping Dale realize her dreams. She tries to model her instructional style in their same constructive manner. She is actively involved in all aspects of life at the college, but, according to Griffith, “students are the best part of the job.”
In her spare time, she reads, gardens, hops the train to Broadway, plays with her animals (dogs, mini-horses, and goats), travels, prays, walks, and enjoys her family and friends.