|Louisiana Center Helps Residents Compete in Today's Tough Job Market|
Monroe, LA – In today's tight economy, competition for jobs is fierce. To increase one's chances of making an employer's short list of candidates, jobseekers must not only possess the necessary experience and skills to perform the job for which they are applying, they must also meet the educational requirements. To offer a complete professional package that combines experience, skills, and education, many jobseekers are returning to the classroom and earning their high school equivalency or General Educational Development (GED) credentials. In fact, according to the GED Testing Service, a program of the American Council on Education (ACE), the number of adults who took the GED exam rose 6.6 percent to nearly 777,000 in 2008. In the first quarter of 2009, GED Testing Service reports an increase in the number of test-takers in 41 states, with 22 states experiencing an increase of greater than 10 percent.
Located in Louisiana, one of just two states that saw the number of GED test-takers increase more than 40 percent during the first quarter of 2009, The Ampy Community Center is doing its part to help residents and community members earn their high school equivalency credentials and compete in today's tough job market by offering a GED exam preparation class. Just one year after it was launched in February 2009, the Certified Neighborhood Networks center's class boasts a 100 percent success rate.
Partners Make It Possible
The Ampy Community Center's GED exam preparation class was established with the help of center partner Community Response Initiative (CRI), which is funded by the Louisiana Department of Social Services. When CRI discovered a surplus in its annual budget, the organization immediately turned to The Ampy Community Center to determine how the money could be put to good use. The answer was the creation of a GED exam preparation class in which residents of the Kingsway Apartments, the housing community served by The Ampy Community Center, were eagerly expressing an interest.
To make the class a reality, CRI and Learning Tech/Quest School, another center partner, collaborated with Angelica Manabal, director of The Ampy Community Center. Learning Tech/Quest School agreed to provide the instructors for the class, as well as the software, textbooks, and other necessary supplies, such as binders, loose-leaf paper, and notebooks. A grant provided by CRI covers the students' cost of taking the exam.
Charting a Course for Success
Prior to enrolling in The Ampy Community Center's GED exam preparation class, students are required to complete a five-week, job-readiness course taught at the center by instructors from CRI. During the class, students learn the importance of setting goals and effective communication, as well as the factors that contribute to employability, such as writing compelling resumes, demonstrating professionalism during interviews, and dressing for success. The job-readiness course also discusses money management issues.
Often times, individuals who participate in a GED exam preparation class have been out of school for a number of years, and it is necessary to determine where they are in the learning process so a curriculum can be created. To assess reading, mathematics, language, and spelling skills, participants of The Ampy Community Center’s GED exam preparation class take the Test of Adult Basic Education, or TABE. The results of a student's TABE are then used by instructors to create a customized curriculum for each student.
"Even though the students are at different levels in their learning, the class meets at the center every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.," explained Manabal. "During that time, students complete lessons and assignments from their individualized curriculum to help them prepare for the GED exam. The length of time it takes for a student to complete his or her preparation depends on where the student is in his or her learning. Typically, the average student's TABE scores indicate a ninth-grade learning level, which usually requires about six months of preparation time to successfully pass the GED exam." Students take the GED exam at the Ouachita Parish Education Center upon completion of the preparation class.
Four Lives, Twelve Months, A World of Opportunities
Participants in the The Ampy Community Center's General Educational Development (GED) exam preparation class show off their new high school equivalency certificates.
People suffering from paraskavedekatriaphobia are fearful of the date Friday the 13th, believing the day to be full of bad luck. However, Ieesha Carroll, Brenda Freeman, Roosevelt Williams, Jr., and Keishan Wilson, showed no fear on February 13, 2009, when they became students in the first GED exam preparation class offered at The Ampy Community Center. Since that day, all four of the students have successfully passed the GED exam, earning the class a100 percent graduation rate.
"The success of the students was really due to the dedication and commitment of the instructors," said Manabal. "Donna Underwood and Denny Garner, Jr., of Learning Tech/Quest School, always made time for our students. It was their commitment in the students that inspired the students to commit to achieving this goal."
The Ampy Community Center's GED exam preparation class is just the first step toward a bright future for its four graduates. For Carroll, who intends to use her new credentials to pursue a career in the culinary arts, earning her GED has changed the way she views herself. "In my mind, I was an 18-year old pregnant high school dropout. However, furthering my education has enabled me to find better jobs and get my life back on track."
Fellow graduate Freeman has been accepted into the nursing program at Delta Community College, and will begin her studies in the fall. She states, "If the GED exam preparation class was not offered at The Ampy Community Center, I would not have pursued it. The convenience of having the class right on the property is what prompted me to come to the class and graduate."
Williams, who plans to enroll at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) where he will major in music, states that obtaining his GED has given him more confidence. "I had been out of school for more than 10 years," said Williams. "It was a challenge to study and complete the class, but it was all worth it when I saw that certificate."
Now that Wilson has earned her high school equivalency credentials, she plans to pursue a career in the medical field. "Without my GED, I do not know where I would be and where I would be headed."
There's More Where That Came From
Currently, four students are working their way toward their GED credentials. Another 44 people are on the waiting list to participate in the class. Manabal is trying to secure funding that will allow everyone to enroll in the center's GED exam preparation class that is positively changing lives.
Current student Kajuana Jones is thankful that The Ampy Community Center offers the GED exam preparation class and has high praise for the instructors. "I appreciate the time that Mrs. Underwood and Mr. Garner take to explain assignments," said Jones. "They break down the concepts so the students can easily understand them, and work with us until we get it. With their help, now I can say that I accomplished one of my life goals."
Fellow classmate Rosa Rhone said, "I was hesitant in participating in the GED preparation class because I had been out of school for more than 20 years. However, since enrolling, I have learned how to write essays and solve math problems. I am doing something positive that will help me reach my career goals."
For more information about Neighborhood Networks centers in Louisiana, contact:
Linda V. Jarrell
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Shreveport Multifamily Program Center
401 Edwards Street, Suite 1510
Shreveport, LA 71101
For more information about The Ampy Community Center, contact:
Angelica G. Manabal
The Ampy Community Center
4205 Elm Street
Monroe, LA 71203
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Department of Housing and Urban
451 7th Street S.W.,
Washington, DC 20410
708-1112 TTY: (202)