There can be many reasons for not graduating high school the first time around, but it's hard to find a good reason not to earn that all important diploma as an adult-especially now, because the course and the test are free and available right here in Macon County.
Add open enrollment, individualized instruction in a respectful setting, and both day and evening class schedules to the mix, and the only barrier to earning a high school general equivalency diploma (GED) in Macon County is making the decision to go through the door of the Adult Education Center at 501 College Street, in Lafayette-and that door is wide open.
“Tennessee is the only state that recognizes adult education as part of ‘No child left behind.' Education begins at home and it's so important for parents to value education,” Macon County Adult Education Supervisor Brenda Eller explained.
In addition to GED classes and testing, the Macon County Adult Education Program offers remedial courses to help adult students prepare for college or vocational school, increase job skills, or learn basic survival skills, according to Eller who also teaches parenting classes.
The Adult Education Center also provides literacy classes, and basic computer skills classes are offered four times a year.
Brenda Eller and the dedicated Adult Education Instructors, Janet Evetts, Sally Greenway, and June Spears are committed to creating an atmosphere of respect and dignity for adult learners. The team not only helps students achieve academic goals, they promote development of self esteem and a positive self image.
“I have been in education for 40 years, and I've been doing this for 14 years. I hand pick my staff to have only compassionate teachers who treat everyone with understanding and respect,” Eller declared.
Most employers and all branches of the military require a high school diploma, or equivalent, today; but current statistics reflect 5,512 Macon County residents over 25 years old without a high school diploma. That number represents more than one fourth of the county's total population and almost forty percent of the over-25 population.
“Our schools are targeted schools because of our high drop-out rate and we haven't met guidelines for the last two years,” the Adult Education Supervisor added.
Governor Phil Bredesen recently announced a 2.5 million dollar funding increase for adult education to make instruction and free testing available for the 1.2 million adult Tennesseans who don't have a high school diploma.
Tennesseans who earn their GED can expect to earn $7,400 more annually than those without a high school diploma. A GED opens doors to a new career or job advancement, and adults who earn their GED can qualify for the Tennessee Lottery Hope Scholarship, according to the state GED Now promotion, currently underway.
There is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all' approach to adult education in Macon County. Whether the adult student wants to earn a GED or strengthen academic skills for college or vocational school prep, enhance job skills, or to become more involved in their children's education, placement test scores help teachers know where to start with individualized instruction, according to Supervisor Eller.
“Even with programs like Pre-K and Headstart, there are so many deterrents that can cause people to fall behind in school early,” Brenda Eller explained.
“Sometimes the home life doesn't reinforce education, but there are so many outside influences today. Sex and drugs are the biggest problems in our schools today and they're all over TV,” the Adult Education Supervisor lamented.
“Language arts and writing skills are so important, but kids don't seem to pick those up from TV,” she added, recalling a line from a Don Williams song referencing learning “