Overview (Class 1)

Straight-A Guide Job Training Program

Lesson #1: Overview

Materials Required:

  • Classroom space
  • Sufficient number of chairs with writing surface
  • One intake form for each participant (attached)
  • One handout titled “Straight-A Guide” for each participant (attached)
  • One handout titled “How do you define Success?” for each participant (attached)

Introduce Lesson #1 (5 minutes):

  • Provide overview of Straight-A Guide Strategy for Success and introduce facilitator.

First steps (10 minutes):

  • Take roll of participants, then distribute intake questionnaire.
  • Distribute “Straight-A Guide” handout.

Goals and Objectives (5 minutes):

  • Explain purpose of lesson and discuss reasons why Straight-A Guide relates to sustainable employment.

Expected Learning Outcomes (5 minutes):

  • Participants will develop an understanding of how to make deliberate, strategic decisions that will advance prospects for success.

Preliminary introduction (5 minutes):

  • Facilitator will open a discussion on the enormous hurdles former prisoners face when trying to transition into the employment market. Many employers refuse to hire individuals who have a criminal record because of liability reasons or preconceived ideas. An understanding of the Straight-A Guide can advance a person’s prospects for employment.

Direct Instruction (10 minutes):

  • Discuss each of the seven attributes from handout distributed earlier titled: “Straight-A Guide.”
  • Open dialogue on how individuals perceive their role in the workforce and discuss how those perceptions align with principles of Straight-A Guide.

Guided Practice (20 minutes):

  • Issue handout titled: “How do you define success.”
  • Engage random participants in open discussion concerning their responses to handout.
  • Introduce challenges participants may anticipate in job market:
    • Misperceptions from fellow employees
    • Entry-level wages
    • Transportation/housing issues
    • Use Straight-A Guide as tool to navigate challenge.


Handout 1: Straight-A Guide Information

The Straight-A Guide is a values-based, goal-oriented program. Since many employers resist hiring people who have criminal backgrounds, we want to help. Our job at the Straight-A Guide is to persuade employers that some people with criminal backgrounds want to transform their lives into law-abiding citizens. To adjust, they need access to employment.

We designed this course with the intention of persuading prospective employers to offer opportunities for individuals who want to transform themselves into law-abiding, contributing citizens. The Straight-A Guide teaches the “soft skills” that employers want to see in the people they bring on board.

Primarily, employers want to hire people who are honest and who understand their role in adding value to the organization. If you proceed through the Straight-A Guide program, we will be able to recommend you for employment opportunities at companies that do not currently hire people with criminal backgrounds.

Our course begins with a lesson on Values. We will spend one lesson discussing the way that you see yourself and contrast that perspective with the ways that you perceive that others see you.

In the next lesson, we will discuss goals. In the Goals lesson we will talk about the importance of setting clear and measurable goals within each value category that you say defines your life.

Then we will focus three lessons on each of the following subjects: attitude, aspiration, action, accountability, awareness, achievement, and appreciation.

Those of us who use the Straight-A guide understand that we can become more than the bad decisions of our past. We can advance from where we stand today to where we want to go in times ahead if we take clear, measurable, deliberate steps.

By working through this 24-hour course, you will provide us with the tools we need to make a stronger case as we advocate for your employment. We want to show employers reasons that they should look beyond your criminal background, and if you apply yourself through this Straight-A Guide job-training program, you will give us the data that we need to succeed.

Handout 2: How Do You Define Success?

This course begins by asking each participant to assess his or her life at the current time. The more clarity we can bring to the strengths and weaknesses in our life today, the more effectively we can chart a course that will lead us to reaching our fullest potential in times to come.

Anyone who participates in this class shows a willingness to improve. Unfortunately, people who have a criminal record need more than a willingness to improve. They need to begin earning a second chance in society, and that isn’t easy. Employers want to hire individuals who demonstrate their commitment to working honestly and to working hard. Since they have many applicants from which they can choose, employers filter out job candidates with backgrounds that suggest they will not work honestly or commit themselves fully to employment. Criminal background checks are frequently one of the first filters they use to screen potential employees.

Many of us would like to have a do-over in life. We would like to take all that we know now and to start again. If we could live that way, many of us would make different decisions. Some of us would have devoted ourselves to school, chose our friends and associates more carefully, and avoided activities that exposed us to the criminal justice system. But we cannot undo our past. Instead, we must respond to the realities that we live and take decisive action steps in response. We can empower ourselves when we define success from within the context of our life story rather than from the context of someone else’s life.

  • Where do you stand right now?
  • What are the complications and challenges of your life?
  • What level of commitment are you willing to make to build a better life?

By answering those questions about our own life, we open our eyes to the incremental actions steps that we must take to improve. Similarly, we should develop an understanding of the concerns that prospective employers have. For example:

  • Why would employers be reluctant to hire people with a criminal record?
  • What concerns do employers have about people who appear to live criminal lifestyles?
  • What steps can I take to show an employer that I’m worthy of a second chance?

Take time to answer those questions. Show that you’re ready to respond to circumstances as they exist rather than as you would like them to be. It is a beginning to define success in your life. Once you can see that success, you can begin setting goals, or incremental action steps that will lead you there. That’s what the Straight-A Guide is all about.

Handout 3: Straight-A Guide Intake Form

Personal Information

  • What is your full name (Last name, first name, middle name)?
  • What is your gender?
  • With whom are you currently living: Mother, father, foster parent, group home, other?
  • What is your address?
  • What languages do you speak?
  • How many children do you have?
  • What is your home phone number?
  • What is your cell phone number?
  • What is an alternative phone number?
  • What is your email address?
  • What communication method do you prefer (please circle)?

Phone            Email              Text


  • What is the highest-grade level you have completed?
  • Did you obtain a high school diploma or GED?
  • On scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being lowest and 10 being highest, how would you assess your education level as being adequate for the employment you seek?
  • Have you attended any college or vocational schools?
  • If yes, what courses did you take?
  • How many years did you complete?

Job Interest

  • What job interests you?
  • What job interests you?
  • What job interests you?

Skills & Past Experiences

  • What is the longest length of time you’ve worked on one job?
  • Why did you stop working on that job?

Job 1: Provide information for your current or most recent job:

  • What is the name of your current/previous employer?
  • Do you have any letters of recommendation?
  • What position did you have?
  • How long did you work there?
  • What requirements or skills were needed for this job?

Job 2: Provide information for your current or most recent job:

  • What is the name of your current/previous employer?
  • Do you have any letters of recommendation?
  • What position did you have?
  • How long did you work there?
  • What requirements or skills were needed for this job?

Job 3: Provide information for your current or most recent job:

  • What is the name of your current/previous employer?
  • Do you have any letters of recommendation?
  • What position did you have?
  • How long did you work there?
  • What requirements or skills were needed for this job?


  • Have you ever lived in a group or foster home?
  • Has a police officer or a social worker ever removed you from your home for family reasons?
  • How many times have you been arrested?
  • How many times have you been convicted?
  • How would you explain your criminal background?
  • What steps are you taking to avoid further problems with the law?
  • How old were you on your first arrest?
  • What was the longest time you’ve been incarcerated?
  • Have you ever been released and returned to confinement?
  • Have you been classified as a gang member?
  • Are you active in a gang?
  • Have you ever been treated for mental illness?
  • Are you currently on probation or parole?
  • Have you ever been enlisted or enrolled in the military?
  • Have you ever been dishonorably discharged?
  • Do you have any health conditions that prevent you from performing certain tasks or responsibilities?
  • Do you have any health conditions that influence your ability to work?
  • How long have you been looking for employment?
  • Are there any jobs you will not do?
  • How will you get to work?