Stillwater News Press

November 7, 2013

Instructor: Adult education can change lives

By Mark Rountree
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Obtaining a high school diploma can open doors to a better job and a post-secondary education. It can also lead to a boost in self-respect, not only for traditional students, but adults as well.

That’s the message of Jennifer Tressler, adult education director/instructor for Stillwater Public Schools.

“The main importance is you are required to have a diploma to get any job, even in a fast-food restuarant,” Tressler said.

Stephanie Calvin, 58, understands. Calvin said she was raised in a foster home, and her focus was “surviving, not education.”

Calvin married at 17 and dropped out of school. She is enrolled in Tressler’s class to earn her GED.

“I want to get it for a couple reasons,” Calvin said. “The first one is that I was ashamed of not having my dipolma. For so many years, I felt like I had a shadow looming over me. The other reason is to get a better job. Nowadays, it’s so easy to do background checks and find out if you have your dipolma right away, and it seems that all jobs require a diploma now. ... Really, it has a lot to do with my self-esteem, too. I’m so glad I decided to go back and get my GED. I feel scared, but excited and proud that I’m doing it.”

Starting in 2014, there will be a new General Education Diploma test. The current version of the GED test is expiring at the end of 2013. Tressler said scores will not count if students do not complete the work and pass the test by then.

Tressler is advising all adult education students to finish the test now so they will not have to retake the parts they have already passed.

Classes are held Monday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Afternoon classes are held from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday. Classes are held in the portable building on the east side of Stillwater High School, 1224 N. Husband St.

Adult Basic Education in preparation for the GED test includes instruction in math, reading, writing, science and social studies.

The program, which is paid for through a federal grant, is offered at no cost, but there is a $15 fee for each of the final tests, which include reading, writing, science, social studies and math.

Last year, 230 people were enrolled in the program that includes Stillwater, Pawnee and Guthrie, and 110 of those people achieved their GED certification.

Tressler said some students require only a month or so to complete the coursework. For others, the instruction could take up to a year.

“It all depends on the skills they bring into the program,” she said.

Students range in age from 16 to 60 years old, Tressler said.

Lilly Harger, 32, recently received her GED, and it’s already paying dividends.

Harger said she got pregnant as a senior in high school, got sick and ended up dropping out.

Years later, she resumed her high school education.

“I wanted to better myself and get my education and better the life for my kids as well,” Harger said.

“Since I’ve gotten my GED, I’ve gone to college and have gotten my medical administration certificate, and I am still attending college to go further. ... I am very happy I got my GED because of my accomplishments since. I’m glad it exists because it gave me a second chance.”

For more information about the adult education classes at Stillwater High, contact Tressler at 405-533-6399.