Farmer receives Audrey Spence award
Bill Farmer, principal of Robert Janss School, North Idaho Correctional Institution, was honored at the spring Idaho Correctional Education conference as the recipient of the prestigious Audrey Spence Award for 2008. Farmer’s commitment to excellence in education and his strong leadership throughout 29 years as an educator with the Idaho Department of Correction have led to accomplishments that exemplify the qualities this award was created to recognize.
Farmer began his career in correctional education as an instructor in 1979. He was quickly promoted to Program Manager for District 4 and CWC satellite campuses. In 1988, he moved up to the position of Education Bureau Chief. Then in 1993, citing the family-friendly lifestyle, he transferred to N.I.C.I. as Educational Program Manager. At N.I.C.I., he found his work family and has remained through changes in titles, practices, policies and staff. His flexibility, loyalty to the department, and dedication to his beliefs that offenders can change and that they and the citizens of Idaho benefit from their receiving an education have made him exceptional—as principal, leader, teacher, boss and friend to those who know him. He is always called upon to initiate new programs and new ideas and to facilitate mutual understanding and agreement among and within a variety of groups. Because of his leadership, Robert Janss at N.I.C.I. has an outstanding educational program that graduates more than 300 G.E.D. and high school students every year, prepares inmates for the work force, teaches parenting skills, and gives inmates skills to apply for and acquire jobs.
The Audrey Spence Award is named for a retired public school teacher who began volunteering to teach at I.C.I.O. She taught protective custody and closed custody inmates who would otherwise not have access to classes. Her demand for excellence and her caring commitment to the instruction of offenders was renowned.