At some point in my career, I decided I wanted to see where I could "set the bar" for myself to ascertain that I measured up to my peers in my career. One of those moments occurred when I decided to take the American Correctional Association's certified corrections executive (CCE) test. I wanted to know how I matched up against corrections professionals who not only run jails, but run prisons as well. I work closely with the Arizona Department of Corrections and teach for various groups, including some private correctional organizations, and I hoped becoming a CCE would give me a broader understanding of the industry.
As I prepared for the test, I read all of the suggested reading and discourses. Most of the study material was a refresher from my many years of experience on the job; but every so often, I stumbled across a topic, such as problem solving, critical thinking and peer mediation, that inspired me to dig into my existing library and renew my knowledge on that topic. 1 found myself talking with peers and staff about some of the topics and concepts that had been either discovered or reawakened. This was a valuable tool for me in mentoring my staff, and, as a result, they were able to mentor individuals they were supervising. I was also able to rejuvenate my peers in their professions through these conversations.
When I drove to the testing site, I was excited--much like that feeling I experienced in the academy: learning, excelling and wondering where this journey would take me. As I took the test, I second-guessed myself, rereading the questions and answers even after I had completed the exam. During the drive home, I reviewed the questions in my head that 1 had doubts about and talked myself through the answers I had chosen, as well as explored what other answers were available and appropriate. This was an invaluable exercise for myself, and it gave me many ideas and workable concepts to utilize in my career--not only for staff but for my population. For example, we utilized the aforementioned peer mediation in deciding who would be housed in our Honor Pod.
Currently, the certificate hangs proudly on the wall in my office, and staff regularly come in and ask what it is, how hard the test was and how I was able to obtain this level of recognition during this stage of my career. It sent a message to the staff that it is important to always strive to "test your metal" and see where you are in your career. Much like the college...