GED graduates celebrate successes

Graduation is a day to remember. Walking across the stage, hearing applause and cheers, being able to spend time with friends and family and receiving a diploma are just a few of the countless happy memories associated with graduating school or college. This year’s graduates of the Henrico Adult Education program experienced each of those components when they completed their courses and received their GEDs in the presence of their families and professors earlier this month.

Since July 2011, 701 Henrico students have taken the GED test, which requires the participants to pass sections focused on math, reading, writing, science and social studies. Of that number, 376 have passed and have received their GEDs and 52 attended this year’s graduation ceremony, said Beverly Godwin, Henrico’s Adult Education administrator.

“Graduation is an awesome experience and is always something that I look forward to,” she said. “It is nice that they have their loved ones there to watch them walk across the stage.”

For more than three decades, the Henrico Adult Education program has worked to prepare students for the road ahead. A number of courses are offered at various skill levels to help those 18 years and older reach their potential in and out of the classroom.

Students have several options as to which classes they can take, Godwin said.

There are Adult Basic Education (ABE) classes, in which students work on building basic skills in reading, writing and math, she said. “Classes also focus on developing critical thinking and problem solving skills.”

There are also English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, which provide instruction in speaking, reading and writing English and understanding American culture; students are encouraged to attend a minimum of 70 hours in order to make substantial gains. Godwin said that several levels of each class are offered to fit the needs of the students.

Additionally, there are General Educational Development (GED) classes, which serve learners who have demonstrated academic readiness to prepare for the GED tests, Godwin said. The GED test will be changing in January 2014, she said.

“The new test will continue to measure high school equivalency but will also include a career and college readiness performance level,” she said. “The new test will contain more rigorous content. The overall goal is to better prepare learners for successful transition to secondary education and competitive employment.”

In Henrico, classes are offered at the Highland Springs Adult Education Center and at the Mt. Vernon Adult Education Complex, both during the day and in the evening, to make sure that anyone who is interested is able to take part.

The mission of the program is to provide diverse educational opportunities that will assist adults in acquiring the skills and knowledge that will lead to further education, employment and personal success, said Godwin, who has been working in adult education for the past 12 years.

It is the responsibility of the teachers to help these students on their way to success, said LaTonya Simmons, the ABE/GED coordinator at Highland Springs.

“As adult education professionals, we help equip citizens with the necessary skills to not only realize their dream of earning a GED, but also to create and obtain new career and personal goals they previously considered unattainable,” she said.

Ann Gareau, the ESOL coordinator, had a similar viewpoint about helping non-native English speakers complete their goals.

“We are here to help them gain the language skills they need to be fully engaged in their community,” she said. She urged anyone who might be interested in, or might benefit from, an ESOL class to take advantage of the services.

Godwin explained that each year, programs across the state receive a Program Performance Report Card from the Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Adult Education and Literacy after being evaluated for financial management, target performance and policy compliance. For four consecutive years, the Henrico program has been recognized as a Tier 1 top performing program, which is the highest level of performance.

“We are extremely proud of our Tier 1 recognition,” she said. “Being recognized as a top performing program is a testament to our talented and dedicated staff, hardworking students, and supporting School Board and Central Office leadership. We are honored by this recognition, and look forward to continuing to provide a comprehensive and quality program to our community.”

The most rewarding part of the job for Mt. Vernon ABE/GED Coordinator Sandra Jackson Allsbrooks is seeing the smiles she receives from her students when they have experienced success.

“So often our students, for whatever reason, did not have a positive school experience and there tends to be a lack of confidence…To see the smiles and to hear them say ‘I’ve got it’ lets me know that we are doing what we have been placed here to do,” she said.

Said Simmons: “It is essential that the value of adult education is not underestimated…Successful adult learners set higher standards of excellence not only for themselves but also for their future generations. Adult learners bring a fresh perspective to life-long learning.”
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Courtney Lynch, the founder of a leadership development company, was somewhat of a surprise winner in the Brookland District supervisor's race. She defeated Virginians for High Speed Rail Executive Director Danny Plaugher, who had been the party's nominee two years ago in the general election for the seat.

Debra Rodman, a Randolph-Macon College professor, earned the party's nomination for the 73rd House District seat, defeating Chelsea Savage, a nurse, in a runoff. Attorney Sarah Smith was third and Bill Coleman, a project manager for a health organization, fourth.
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Therapeutic healing


In a room labeled the garden room, a bright space with lavender-colored walls and pebble-gray chairs, art therapist Becky Jacobson might ask her patients to imagine a safe place, but she doesn’t ask them to describe it to her — she wants them to draw it.

The patients are free to draw whatever they envision, expressing themselves through their colored markers, a form of healing through art therapy.

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Eight’s enough? Crowded race for 56th District develops


Following the retirement of Delegate Peter Farrell [R-56th District], a number of candidates have thrown their hats into the ring to vie for the open seat in the Virginia General Assembly district, which contains a portion of Henrico’s Far West End.

Democratic challengers include Lizzie Basch and Melissa Dart, while Republican contenders include George Goodwin, Matt Pinsker, Graven Craig, Surya Dhakar, Jay Prendergrast and John McGuire. In addition to a section of Henrico, the district also includes portions of Goochland and Spotsylvania County, as well as all of Louisa County. > Read more.

On the trail to Awareness


Twenty-five teams, composed of some 350 participants, gathered at Dorey Park in Varina April 8 for the Walk Like MADD 5k, to benefit Mothers Against Drunk Driving Virginia. The event raised more than $35,000, with more funds expected to come in through May 7. > Read more.

Leadership Metro Richmond honors St. Joseph’s Villa CEO


Leadership Metro Richmond honored St. Joseph's Villa CEO Kathleen Burke Barrett, a 2003 graduate of LMR, with its 2017 Ukrop Community Vision Award during its annual spring luncheon April 6.

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As part of the 2016-17 Bryan Innovation Lab Visiting Innovators Program, The Steward School is hosting Leah Buechley, an inventor and educator in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) movement. The program is “Beautiful Technology: Blending high tech with traditional craft to bring programming off of our screens and into our hands.” While on campus, Ms. Buechley will participate in activities that are free and open to the Richmond community, including an afternoon Maker Fair and an evening lecture and discussion. Participants will learn about cutting-edge tools and future trends of interactive wearable technology. Buechley will share her insights as a female entrepreneur developing products that are accessible to anyone interested in designing and building their own inventions. The Maker Fair, a family-friendly event with hands-on activities and guest exhibitors, will start at 3:15 p.m. The lecture and discussion will start at 5:30 p.m. Registration is recommended for all events at https://stewardschool.org/beautiful-technology. Full text

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