Henrico County VA
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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.”


Community

Agencies combine on new entry point to Chickahominy


Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.

The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.

Equestrian clinic planned July 7-8 in Henrico

Henrico equestrians interested in deepening the bond between themselves and their horses have the opportunity to attend a two day clinic, held at Steppin’ High Stables on July 7-8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The clinic, “Become Partners with your Horse,” will be taught by multiple world champion equestrienne Terry Preiser and will focus on how riders and horses can work together to achieve more. > Read more.

Henrico school bus driver honored

The Henrico-based Hephaestus Society recently awarded its first annual community heroes award (the Hephaestus Award) to Hicham Elgharouch (pictured, center) for what it termed his "selfless acts of caring" in his duties as a Henrico County Public Schools bus driver. Henrico County Director of Pupil Transportation Josh Davis, joined Hephaestus Society President Travis Gardner, in presenting the award and an accompanying $1,500 check to Elgharouch last month.

Elgharouch was selected for his clear and demonstrated patience and for his infectious positive attitude, according to the society. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Grab the kids and check out these fun family-friendly events taking place this weekend! Speed over to the Henrico Theatre for the film “Turbo” or watch “Dumbo” under the stars at Clarke-Palmore House Museum. Little ones can meet Thomas the Tank Engine at CMOR-Central or play at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Don’t party too hard on the Fourth because a whole weekend of fun events await! Enjoy a classy date night without the kids at James River Cellars Winery’s second annual Smoke and Vine Festival. Another date night option is at the Richmond Funny Bone, where comedian April Macie will perform all weekend. The kids have their own options this weekend as well. Choose from storytime at Tuckahoe and Twin Hickory libraries or family-oriented karaoke at Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House – I hear they have hits from Disney’s “Frozen.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

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