Kim Fortune couldn’t stop smiling Friday, June 2, as she stood behind a podium and addressed her first-ever graduating class since she became CITC’s GED instructor.
“I just enjoy teaching so much, and I’m looking forward to continuing with the success of the program,” Kim said just before the graduation ceremony, which honored the three individuals who had recently passed all four exams necessary to obtain their GEDs. CITC’s GED Prep program gave each of them time and space to study, as well as access to tutoring that helped guide their preparation.
Just before she handed out the graduates’ certificates, Kim praised each individual for their dedication. With three graduates came three stories of determination, resiliency, and success.
There were days when Donovan Burger came to class dripping wet — depending on the weather. “He rode his bike to CITC every day for classes,” Kim shared.
Rain or shine, Donovan showed up not only to tackle his own studies but to offer help to his fellow students. After testing at a very high reading level, he became a fast-track student, completing his science and language art studies independently while taking CITC’s eight-week social studies and math classes.
“My dad and sisters are here today,” Donovan said after the graduation. “They all came here to get their GEDs, too. They were before me, and they said it wouldn’t take long. And they were right — only two months later, here I am.”
“Before, when I applied for jobs, it was always in the back of my mind that I didn’t have my GED,” explained Faye Serrano as she sampled a piece of graduation cake. “Now it feels like all those doors that were closed are open.”
Though she found the math test particularly challenging, Faye gained confidence when Kim encouraged her to take the exam. “I started crying when I got the results and saw I’d passed. It felt like something I couldn’t accomplish, but going to the CITC class every day and studying really helped.”
Faye will stay connected to CITC: This September, she plans to enroll in the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) program to get training for a career in the medical field.
“After that, I’ll be able to have a job that I will love and feel like I really worked hard for,” she said.
Leonard Williams, Jr.
Leonard Williams was the most experienced student Kim worked with this year, but he also had the most nail-biting wait to find out if he’d achieved his GED: His results came in just one day before the graduation. The outcome was well worth the wait, though.
“Leonard had already passed the other three exams, but he was challenged by the language arts test,” Kim said. “He was an independent study student. I asked him to talk to the other students and give them encouragement.”
“I shared with them that you just need to take your time on the test and read it exactly as it’s written,” Leonard described. While he came to class to offer advice to others, he also found support during a time of difficulty. “The first time I took the language arts test, I was only two or three questions from passing. I got a little discouraged. But I had a lot of support at home and from all the CITC staff. Even when I was studying on my own, CITC folks were there giving me encouraging words.”
Up next, Leonard will join Faye in enrolling in CITC’s HPOG program.
Putting in the Effort
As one class moves on, another takes its place: The Monday following the graduation, Kim was back in the classroom, this time teaching science and language arts.
CITC’s GED Diploma Preparation program offers tutoring and preparation in the four areas of study covered by the GED’s four required exams: language arts, social studies, science, and math. Classes are scheduled Monday through Thursday and run eight weeks each, with morning classes dedicated to one subject and afternoon classes dedicated to a second subject.
Participants must be referred to class by Employment and Training Services staff, after which GED staff will contact prospective students to complete a reading and math assessment. Classes are small, with a maximum of ten students, so individuals can get one-on-one attention and support.
“We have practice tests the students can take, so we’re able to look at the results and give them areas of study to review,” Kim explained. “The practice also gives them a sense of confidence so they’re ready when it’s time for the real test.”
Supported independent study is also available. Either way, Kim said, students put in a good deal of work. “My graduates put in 70 to 80 hours, plus, of classroom time. Plus study at home. That just shows their commitment. I’m not surprised they passed because they put in so much effort to do so.”
For more information about CITC’s GED Preparation classes, visit the program webpage. You can learn more about HPOG here. Or call (907) 793-3300 to get connected with any of our Employment Training and Services Department programs.