Gary Moore had to drop out of school at 11 years of age to take care of his baby sisters, and no one seemed to have noticed or bothered to find out what happened to his education afterwards.
Now, according to the Christian Science Monitor, the 27-year-old baker is picking up where he left off in school by working towards his diploma at a charter Indiana high school for adults that gives grown-ups a second chance – and some a first chance – at graduation.
The Excel Center, founded by Goodwill Industries, caters specifically to adult learners. It differs from most adult education recovery programs by providing classes with in-person instructors – and not a computer monitor – as well as an academic coach.
The coach helps each student with academics, childcare, and transportation issues, as well as anything that interferes with their education. Most importantly, the coaches develop relationships with students so that someone knows and cares whether they are in school or not.
Teachers, staff, and academic life coaches all share a common goal: changing their local communities through education of the individual. Recently, 688 students in central Indiana changed their lives by earning a diploma through the Excel Center.
Goodwill has also started schools serving 3,500 different students in South Bend, Indiana; Austin, Texas; Memphis, Tennessee; and Washington with another 20 locations in consideration.
And these programs are not just handing out diplomas. In Texas, students are expected to earn their diploma and a trade certification, along with passing state standardized tests. Upon enrollment at the Excel Center, however, 64% of students were unemployed. After graduation, 80% are employed or continuing on to college.
Each graduate also represents enormous savings for taxpayers. Welfare payments, food stamp, criminal justice costs, and medical care add up to about $235,000 per person over the course of their lifetime. Multiply that by millions for those who don’t have a diploma, are not in school, underemployed, or unemployed and that figure easily reaches the trillions.
The bigger picture benefits for society looms even larger because of the “generational impact”, since most parents who graduate are more likely to have a child that graduates. The vast majority of Goodwill adult students have reported since their own enrollment, their children have improved in school as well.
As the charter schools have begun to expand across the country, many Chambers of Commerce acknowledge that an educated and trained workforce is one of the biggest assets in attracting industries and jobs to an area.
But for Moore, he’s the most excited about graduation.
“When you’re denied something, you want it even that much more. I don’t want to cry, but it’s certainly going to mean everything,” he tells The Christian Science Monitor.
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