By Joe Orlando, CDCR Public Information Officer

Two-hundred forty-seven and counting. That’s the number of Microsoft Office (MOS) Certifications students in Chris Lawyer’s Computer class at Johanna Boss High School have earned since 2008. Those students are youth at O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton.

“I couldn’t figure it out, but the kid sitting next to him can figure it out,” said Lawyer who has taught at the school since 1989.

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Chris Lawyer

Lawyer said it’s that type of camaraderie that allows rival gang members to sit side-by-side and help each other out while bettering themselves.

Students like Andrew Snow, who has achieved Master certification and is now a student aide to Lawyer, earns money he can use when he heads to college in the fall. Snow, who has been at Close for three-and-a-half years, is scheduled to be released next month.

“Everything I learned here, I know I can use out there,” said the 21-year-old.

Lawyer said some of the students had never even used a computer when they arrived. He said there are three levels of certification: MOS, Expert and Master.

Snow is one of just nine students in Lawyer’s six-year-program to achieve Master status. Lawyer said the student aide has answered questions that even he, the teacher, couldn’t answer.

Lawyer said, “The biggest thrill for me is the kid who nobody thought he could do this, or anything for that matter, and he gets Microsoft certified.”

Lawyer said he’s proud of the small contributions he has made in the students’ lives.

Snow said he will never forget time spent in the classroom and the computer and life lessons learned.

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Lawyer points to the wall of certificates earned by his computer students.