Honorable Judge William J Watson Honored with NYACCE Service Award
The New York Association for Continuing and Community Education (NYACCE) has honored the Honorable Judge William J. Watson. Judge Watson is a Lockport City Court Judge and was nominated by Orleans/Niagara BOCES Literacy Zone Coordinator Charles Diemert for his work with the BOCES programs.
Mr. Diemert says, “Judge William J. Watson has a reputation for being tough and no nonsense. Until you get to know him. For nearly 20 years, Judge Watson has voluntarily – and with no financial compensation – run three treatment court programs. These programs help people struggling with addiction, those struggling with mental health concerns, and young adults. The goal is to not only keep people out of jail, but also to give them the support, structure, and resources necessary to put their lives back together– all while gaining the best possible likelihood of never again facing the inside of a jail cell.”
One of the main tenets of Judge Watson’s treatment courts is the need to have a high school diploma, or its equivalent, prior to graduating the court program. “Judge Watson has been a tremendous and outspoken supporter of all local adult education programs during his time on the bench,” explains Diemert. “He takes a personal interest in participants’ successes and struggles. We have heard from many students that they never believed they could find success in school until Judge Watson told them to believe in themselves. He will not let fear be the reason they didn’t try.”
Because of their participation in Judge Watson’s programs, and their resulting successes, five individuals have been recognized as NYACCE’s Student of the Year and dozens of adult learners, who may never have gone back to school, have achieved their high school equivalency.
Judge Watson was also part of an exciting pilot program, in partnership with Orleans/Niagara BOCES and www.alison.com, which saw him assigning free online learning classes in lieu of community service. Because he believes education has the power to change lives, Judge Watson jumped at the opportunity to assign more meaningful projects than cleaning buildings or picking up garbage along a highway. He gave participants the freedom to choose the courses they felt were most beneficial and did not mandate that they pass, only that they put forth an honest effort.
“His sincere approach to helping people improve their lives is what makes him a good judge and, more importantly, a great man,” says Diemert. “Whether it is mandating someone to enroll in classes, presenting to groups of school-age children about the importance of education, or speaking at the Orleans/Niagara BOCES HSE (High School Equivalency) Graduation Ceremony, Judge William Watson has played a significant role in the educational development of countless youth and adults.”
Photo Caption: Honorable Judge William J. Watson and Chuck Diemert at the award ceremony.