Welcome! Read the latest issue of PROGRESS, featuring inclusive programming in Virginia. Read PROGRESS

Adult Education Connection

by Karen Gent

Derek Keene

Derek Keene of Grundy dropped out of high school in his senior year. Even though he made “decent grades”, he became discouraged and lost his motivation to finish. At the urging of his parents, he enrolled in Southwest Regional Adult Education’s GED® preparation class at the Buchanan County Career & Technology Center in June 2017. He attended for a short time, became sick, and quit going to class.

Two years later, in June 2019, Derek entered a program at The Laurels in Lebanon. One of his counselors there recommended that he, again, attempt to work toward earning his GED® certificate. At this point in Derek’s life, he saw this as an opportunity to get his life together so that he could be able to move forward and accomplish goals that would improve his future.

On July 19, 2019, Derek Keene entered my classroom doors for the first time. I discovered Derek to be extremely dedicated, motivated, and focused when it came to his studies. Derek said that he benefited from the class not just by earning his GED® credential, but also by thinking about his future and what his next steps would be. He appreciated the relaxed but very supportive environment of the adult education classroom.

Derek has been highly successful in the adult education program. His greatest chal-lenge was the GED® Reasoning Through Language Arts Test, but he studied hard and attained a good score on that subject test. Derek said that working in GED® Academy, an online preparation program, and working in the textbooks provided by the program were very helpful in improving his skills. In just five weeks, with class meeting only three days a week, Derek passed all four of the GED® sub-ject tests and earned his GED® certificate on August 22. Not only did Derek earn his GED® credential, he was also able to increase his educational functioning levels in both reading and math, which is one of our most important program goals.

“This was the first step I needed to take in moving forward.” Derek said. “I didn’t expect to get my GED® that quickly. I thought it would probably take at least six months, but it was much shorter.”

Through the process of attaining his GED® credential, Derek felt very encouraged and supported by the staff at The Laurels. Not only did the staff provide emotional support, but they also provided transportation for Derek to get to and from class each day. He reflected that the whole experience has been life changing for him.

After accomplishing his primary goal of earning his high school equivalency credential, Derek continued attending my class and prepared to earn a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). Derek studied the WorkKeys curriculum and passed the three necessary subject tests with scores high enough to earn a gold-level NCRC.

What’s next for Derek Keene? Derek will soon be moving back home to Grundy. His first priority is to get a job, and then he wants to make plans to attend community college focusing on earning a degree in some field of science, which just happens to be his favorite subject.

Southwest Regional Adult Education congratulates Derek on his success in our program and his high GED® test scores, which indicate college-readiness! If someone has not finished high school, it’s not too late. Adult education is all about second chances and reaching goals. Anyone could be the next GED® success story!

Karen Gent

Karen Gent is the lead teacher for Southwest Regional Adult Education. Karen has been an adult education instructor for the past 15 years with a focus on Integrated Education and Training (IET) programs since 2009. Karen is the editor and primary writer of the “Adult Education Connection”, a newspaper column appearing in five weekly newspapers in Southwest Virginia, and is the recipient of the 2016 VAACE Joan E.D. Kushnir Teacher of the Year Award.