Marie is a high school dropout. When asked why she dropped out, she ponders for a moment and then explains, “You know, I didn’t receive any support from my family. I was busy babysitting for cousins and helping in other ways during the day. No one bothered to come to events at school. I became discouraged. I simply lost the will to try.” Twenty-eight years later, the pain of not graduating is still visible on Marie’s face.
At eighteen, Marie started drinking. She thought she was just drinking to have fun and be sociable. Drinking was a way of life in her family and she didn’t think her drinking was a problem. Married at twenty-three to a man she describes as a functional alcoholic, she finds it ironic that he gave her the ultimatum: stop drinking or give up the marriage. To save the marriage, she checked herself into a 5-day treatment program. “Treatment just didn’t work for me. The problem wasn’t with the treatment program, I simply wasn’t ready. I was deep in denial.” Marie was an alcoholic for over 28 years.
One year ago, Marie took a day off from drinking. Her nine-year old daughter looked her straight in the eyes and said, “Mom, I like you so much better this way.” Her gaze never left her mother’s eyes. Overwhelmed with shame and grief, in that very moment Marie decided not to have a drink again. Over a year sober, Marie says she’s slowly rebuilding her life and working toward becoming the parent she never had. Soon thereafter she enrolled in a program called Connecting Parents to Educational Opportunities (CPEO), a new parent program in the Minneapolis School District that helps parents become equal partners in their child’s education. When she graduated from this program, she wanted to keep the momentum going.
This past November, Marie enrolled in the Minneapolis Public Schools Adult Basic Education program located in North High School in North Minneapolis. While she is intent on getting her GED, she recognizes the importance of setting other goals as well. She’s thinking about community college, a career and training program, building a better life for her daughter and herself and staying sober—one day at a time. These are new hopes and dreams for Marie. She credits, among others, her teachers at the Northside Adult Basic Education program for customizing a program that meets her unique education needs. This week Marie graduated from her Power Reading class, an intensive adult reading initiative aimed to help students just like Marie. Though the road to making up for lost time at school feels long to her some days, she knows the effort is well worth it. As she reminds me; “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” (Winston Churchill)
If you are an adult and thinking about returning to school, call 612-668-1863 (Northside Adult Basic Education) or 612-668-3800 (Southside Adult Basic Education) to learn how to register for free day and evening classes.