Adult learners defying odds by receiving diplomas
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) through the Mid-Mo Adult Learning Center honored 25 adults at their graduation ceremony in Jefferson City on Thursday.
Those recognized received honors for passing the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET). Some students were also honored for passing their U.S. Citizenship test, and English as a Second Language learners were recognized for being inducted into the National Adult Education Honor Society.
Aura Velasquez, a graduate, said now that she got her diploma she can help motivate others to achieve their goals.
"I feel proud and accomplished, I feel inspired to continue my education and be a better example for my daughters and any girls out there who have been stopped for life reasons," she said.
AEL is a free, grant-funded program. Jefferson City Public School's serves as its host agency. AEL classes are offered in Jefferson City, Fulton, Eldon, Versailles, and California.
Stephany Schler, Mid-MO Adult learning center director, said the program has been going on for at least 35 years, and about 550 students are enrolled in classes. She says this program ultimately helps these adults reach the goals they set for themselves.
"When they pass their HiSet, when they get that equivalency, it is amazing, they're so proud of themselves and it opens so many doors for them. And that's the most filling thing for them to be able to go out and be productive members of society," she said.
Missy Ellsworth, a parent of a graduate, said in the past her son has struggled to receive educational help for his learning needs.
"We moved here from Mexico, Missouri. And he was in the alternative school there, he didn't have the support there that he does here, buy no means do I want to say there a bad school, he just didn't get the support," Ellsworth said.
She said with AEL her son is able to pursue he goals of going into the military.
The ceremony included speeches by Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin, JCPS Superintendent Larry Linthacum and Judith Ntimpa, a 2014 graduate.
Schler said as they move into the future they hope to work closer with Jefferson City Public Schools because of their large literacy initiative, and JCPS parents.
"We really want to reach out to more parents in the community, parents of our students that are in K-12 schools, and help educate them so they can educate their children, and be helping our communities with literacy," she said.
Schler said the program runs August to June and alongside education staff help adult learners with child care, and transportation to class.