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Adult Education Program Seeks to Break Cycle of Generational Poverty

July 13, 2017 03:27 PM
 

students in GED classThe problem of generational poverty does not belong to one single generation. Whether it’s a grandparent taking classes so he can read bedtime stories to his grandchildren, a parent earning her GED so she can help her children with their math homework or a high schooler taking extra courses to ensure he graduates — education is often what makes the difference in breaking the cycle of generational poverty.

The instructors at the Coastal Pines Technical College adult education program see many different age groups come through the doors of their numerous locations throughout Glynn County. Regardless of age, students are there to learn. The program is federally funded and free to any student who is willing to commit to 20 hours of instruction a week.

“We break the cycle,” said Kemso Keith, an instructor at the program. “When we look at some of the schools with behavioral problems, schools with high absenteeism, a lot of those children are the children of our students (in the adult education program) … If we can get the parents to go back and finish (school) then they’ll encourage the children to finish.”

With what was once taught in high school now being taught in middle school, it can often be overwhelming for parents to help their children with their education — especially for those parents who never finished school themselves.

“It’s as simple as being able to sit in a parent-teacher conference and being able to ask questions that are relevant to their kids,” Keith said. “Sometimes when the teacher talks, the parents can be very intimidated by that if they’ve never been in school. So they have no idea how to sit and have a conversation with the teacher and see what they can do to help their kid.”

If you ask instructor Melissa Holmes, the adult education program offered by Coastal Pines isn’t just a place adults can study to earn their GED.

“We’re often called just the GED program,” Holmes said. “But what we really are is a college and career preparation program.”

Along with preparing students to pass the GED, the program teaches students soft skills that are vital to get a job or seek higher education. The adult education program will be expanding these efforts this October with Georgia Best pilot classes which will teach students skills such as interviewing for jobs.

Still, major portions of the classes at the adult education program are geared toward GED preparation. Earning a GED unlocks not only opportunities for the future, but confidence in the students themselves, according to Keith.

“It’s self confidence,” Keith said. “It’s something about getting that GED when a lot of people said they couldn’t, even people who are closest to them, but once they get that one achievement, it’s really easy for them to move on and to achieve more.”

Out of Glynn County’s 16 to 24-year-olds, approximately 24 percent are currently neither in school nor seeking further education, according to recent data from The Opportunity Index. They are often referred to as disconnected youth.

Many of the students at the adult education program fall between the ages of 19 to 24-years-old, Keith said. Many of these students who earn their GED go on to seek further education or employment. There are also separate teen classes for students ages 16 to 21-years-old.

“We have systems put in place to really help assist (teens),” Keith said. “We have mentorships and volunteers who come in to speak with them. We really try to get someone to help mentor those students and see why they dropped out.”

To bring down the disconnected youth rate it’s important for older generations to seek out an education as well to ensure the success of their children, according to the instructors at the adult education program.

“We’re here to help,” Keith said. “We want people to not be embarrassed or ashamed to say that they need the help.”

Article written by John Hammel of The Brunswick News.

 

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