Connie said her three children and the trio of coordinators at Open Door Learning Center cheered her on and kept her in class. "As many times as I wanted to give up," Connie said, "they wouldn't let me give up. They wouldn't let me give up on myself."
For Michael, who went to seven different high schools in three states, a diploma seemed out of reach. It was ten years since he'd been in a high school classroom, but the teachers helped him persevere to get his GED. "It was a huge step in my life," Michael said.
Chekita got the whole class laughing about her least favorite test: math. "I passed in time to be here and share with you all today," Chekita said, "so thank you all for that."
Annelisa Donlan, a coordinator at Open Door Learning Center, urged students to view this graduation day not as the end of journey but the beginning.
And to inspire their next steps, she read a list of the students' dreams: "Become an animal rescuer. Travel. Start my medical career. Be a journeyman electrician. Go to college."
College and career readiness is a major focus of the new GED test. Instead of simply measuring high school equivalency, the new test – which debuted this month – aims to prepare students for their next step.
Starting in 2014, students must take the test on a computer rather than with pencil and paper. This means adults must master computer skills in addition to studying for the five subject tests of the GED.
Individual attention for students is important, especially for learning the computer skills needed on the test. Volunteer tutors make this one-to-one teaching possible in classrooms. To be a volunteer in Adult Basic Education, no prior teaching experience is necessary. The Minnesota Literacy Council offers training and placement assistance for GED volunteers.
This year's graduates at Open Door Learning Center are glad they made that first call many months ago to enroll in classes. Not only did they earn their GED, but they formed a community of learners.
Open Door Learning Center has five locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but there are hundreds of GED programs in Minnesota. Adults who want to study for the GED can find a program near their home through the Adult Literacy Hotline: 1-800-222-1990 or mnliteracy.org/hotline.