Back to school for a new class of adult learners

Back to school for a new class of adult learners
Pictured from left at a GED preparation course session hosted by the Tri-County Literacy Council in Cornwall are Sylvia Skidders

CORNWALL, Ontario – The Tri-County Literacy Council is offering a free GED preparation course, as a new option for adults to obtain their high school diploma.

While the General Educational Development test boasts a leaner schedule than enrolling full-time at an alternative education centre or completing multiple credits by correspondance lessons, it’s also a massive undertaking, covering a comprehensive mix of math, science, reading, writing, and social studies, to be completed in two three-hour sessions over two days.

That’s where the Tri-County Literacy Council steps in.

Inside the quaint classroom at the non-profit’s downtown building, course instructor Eric Heward helps students – from Cornwall as well as Akwesasne, Maxville, and Long Sault, ranging between the ages of 20 to 60 – study effectively, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and learn the policies and procedures involved in taking the GED test.

“There was definitely a need for this in the Cornwall area,” said Heward. “It can be a little intense – they’re cramming almost five years of high school in and being tested in a high pressure setting, maybe for the first time in a long time. There can be anxities attached. The purpose of this is to help alleviate that.”

The program runs five mornings a week, for three to four hours, on a drop-in basis. Heward says most of the first class will likely graduate in spring or summer 2016. Many were already connected to the Tri-County Literacy Council through its adult skills program.

Greg Mooney found his way back to the classroom after almost 50 years. The 66-year-old student said “learning never stops.” He heard about the GED prep course at a job fair.

Roxanne Peters, 53, says attaining her Grade 12 diploma has also been an ongoing journey for decades, and praised the course for offering a helpful environment and atmosphere.

“My family took priority – this is something I had planned to do for many years,” said Peters.

Sylvia Skidders credited the course for helping her reach an academic goal while raising her young family.

“It’s not taking up my whole day,” she said. “This makes it a lot easier for me.”

Mary Beth Cowan is looking to continue her studies at the post-secondary level in fire services, after passing the test that is.

The class agreed that without a high school diploma, finding gainful employment or furthering their education has been extremely difficult.

“A lot of the courses I look into, you need to have your Grade 12 English and math to even apply,” said Cowan.

Dina McGowan, executive director for the Tri-County Literacy Council, noted the GED test has been a popular choice among learners in the United States – and has recently gained more traction in Canada. 

“I’m waiting for the day that one our learners goes to Algonquin College, writes that test, passes, and we can say we’ve prepared someone for that,” said McGowan. “Ultimately, we’d also like to be a GED testing site.”

To ensure new graduates have employment opportunities, the council partnered with a Cornwall organization.

“(Our) team has indicated that they work with many local employers that are quite supportive of the GED and do indeed consider the equivalency when hiring,” said Wendy Woods, executive director of Job Zone d’emploi.

The Tri-County Literacy Council (located at 101 Second Street West) is supported by the United Way of SD&G – learn about their fundraising campaign here.

For more information on the GED preparation course, contact Tri-County Literacy Council at 613-932-7161.    

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