Sunday, June 29, 2014

Windham-Raymond Adult Education honors class of 2014 - By Michelle Libby

Not everyone takes the traditional route to graduation because typical high school doesn’t work for everyone. Windham-Raymond Adult Education offers a way for anyone from ages 18 to 110 to earn their high school equivalence certificate or their high school diploma through classes offered at night.
This year, 31 students graduated and 20 of those marched at a ceremony held on June 12. 

“They were a group that grew so much this year - from kids who just wanted to get finished with school to adults with a future focus. It was really exciting to watch as learners worked together to meet their educational goals,” said Lisa Robinson, lead teacher, who also does assessments and placements. 

“Each student is given an individual plan to meet their goals. We have that luxury in having small classes that everything in individualized,” said Tom Nash, director of the adult education program. Older students are given credits toward their high school diploma based on work experience, volunteer experience and educational experience. 

“Many have a hard time escaping their past issues and indiscretion. They’re looking for a fresh start and we’re willing to give it to them,” said Nash. 

Gloria Warrick earned her associates, bachelors and master’s degrees from an online college based in Colorado. She couldn’t make their graduation ceremony, so she asked if she could be involved in the adult education ceremony. She had originally gotten her GED through adult education, said Nash. She was the last one to cross the stage and was given a yellow cord to wear to signify being on the honor roll along with her stole and gown from the university. 
Alisha Blumenthal, 19, earned her diploma this year. She grew up in foster care and spent two years on her own. She moved to Florida, then moved back to Maine, had heart surgery and then found Robinson. “Lisa helped get me there,” said Blumenthal. She plans to go to SMCC to be a nurse and possibly get her master’s degree someday. “Lisa helped me stay focused and kept me on track.” Blumenthal would like to encourage student not to give up and not to feel like they won’t be anything.

“It’s the most exciting feeling in the world. It’s my achievement, my motivation. I proved everybody wrong,” Blumenthal said. 

Matt McConnell, 18, loves to work. He has two jobs and working full-time while attending school at night worked for him. “(High school) wasn’t the right scene for me,” he said. His plan is to attend Washington County Community College in Calais to earn an associate’s degree in engine specialist and heavy equipment operation. After that he hopes to move to Florida to find a job rebuilding motors and eventually open his own auto body shop. 

“For people who can’t do regular high school, I’d recommend this all day,” he said. 
This year was a transition year for many states, as the trend was to stop giving the GED test and move to the HiSET assessment. 

“This was a transition year from the GED to the HiSET (the Maine State approved testing option for a high school credential). It went much smoother than expected, and the learners have had a really positive experience with the new test,” said Robinson. The company that created the HiSET is the same one that created the SAT test. It is both a paper and a computer-based test, whereas the GED was going to completely computer based, according to Nash. The HiSET test covers Language arts – reading and writing, mathematics, science and social studies. 

Steve McFarland, our College Transitions Coordinator/Advisor stated that about 50 percent of the students say they want to attend some post-secondary program, and about 20 to 25 percent will actually do so.

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