Adult education offers opportunities and joy for many
Cindy Lewis finished the 11th grade in 1976 and never returned to school until last year.
With nearly 30 other adult education students, she arrived at the SC Works Center on York Street on Monday to register and resume her efforts to earn a General Educational Development certificate, best known as a GED.
“I’ve taken the test three times,” Lewis said. “I’m only taking the math test this time. Everything else is done, and hopefully I’ll get the math this time.”
Scores of people registered at sites throughout the county, and more will do so today. Many will seek the GED, and those with enough credits can pursue high school diplomas.
Others will take English as Second Language classes to help them move further in their educational opportunities. Those who may not be ready to pursue a GED can start with basic education.
The Aiken County School District coordinates the adult education department. During the next school term, about 1,100 people will participate. For the first time, new state and federal funds will allow the Aiken district and others throughout the state to eliminate the $35 fee per semester — a policy expected to continue for years to come.
The GED exam fee is currently still $80, but will jump to $150 in 2014. The new year also will create concern about current and new adult education students. Revamped federal rules will change the academic standards. Those students who have not passed the GED before January will have to start the process over again.
The teachers at SC Works Center are committed to their students, said Annette Loflin, the lead instructor. She taught in New York City for many years, and, after to moving to Aiken in 2000, she taught Spanish at South Aiken High School for another decade before retiring in 2010.
Loflin almost immediately went to work with the adult education program. This summer, she invited some of the students to come to her home.
“I didn’t want them to go without any instruction over the summer,” she said. “That can really make a difference.”
She takes great pleasure working with the adults, appreciating their motivation despite the challenges of having families and jobs.
“I love them and want them to succeed,” Loflin said. “We’re here to do everything we can for them.”
Porsha Adams arrived at SC Works with her son Karon, 2, and her mother, Carla Adams. Her son, Porsha said, is a major reason why she intends to get her GED.
“She’s got so much potential,” Carla said. “We just have to bring it out. This year is our year, and Porsha is going to get her GED and go on to college. We’re in this thing together. She’s my baby.”
Remarkably, Charlotte Raiford started teaching at then-Schofield High School in 1962. She retired from Aiken High School five years ago, but still wasn’t ready to give up teaching. Raiford’s husband Clarence is a longtime adult education teacher, and Raiford joined him.
She’s so thrilled that so many adults of all ages don’t give up on a desire to learn. Perhaps there is a job they didn’t get and dreamed about it over the years.
“When it comes from inside, they want it passionately,” Raiford said. “As a teacher, you’re obligated to help them achieve.”
Cindy Lewis attends classes at the River of Life Church through Christ Central Ministries. She is disabled, but keeps working toward a goal of hanging a GED certificate on her wall, so she can say she accomplished something at her age.
“It would be nice to have that,” Lewis said. “I came from a rough life, and it’s a blessing to know I’ve come as far as I have.”
Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001. He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.