Good News from a Public School

I have to provide some balance on occasion, right? I’m posting the whole article, because I don’t have a web link—I got it on the UU homeschooling list. Oh—I believe Sedalia is in North Carolina.

An example for their children
By Bruce Buchanan Staff Writer
News & Record

SEDALIA — From the hall, it sounds like another day at Sedalia Elementary: A teacher explains fractions, while her class scribbles down math problems off the board.

Except it’s 6:30 p.m. and the people filling the classroom aren’t elementary school students — they are their parents.

The school, in cooperation with GTCC, is offering a GED class for parents and community members who didn’t graduate from high school. About 25 adults are enrolled.

This includes the mother-daughter pair of Jo Anne Prevatt and Wendy Lewis. Lewis has two children at Sedalia, who asked her to come back to school.

“It shows them that if I can do mine, they can graduate,” Lewis said. She, in turn, asked Prevatt to come with her.

While most elementary schools look to the community for assistance, Sedalia officials decided they could help the community.

Principal Jennifer Topper, guidance counselor Judy Hyman and some PTA parents put the plan together. GTCC officials agreed to provide an instructor and materials, but only if the school could recruit 12 students.

Four people signed up initially. But Topper didn’t give up. She asked around. More people were interested, but something — usually child care concerns — kept them from coming.

So Sedalia officials removed those obstacles. They offered child care during the twice-weekly sessions and brought in food so that parents and children could eat supper before classes. The McLeansville Wildlife Club held a cook-out to welcome GED students.

Taking care of those details made all the difference, said Virgie Poore, GED student and mother of four Sedalia students.

“I couldn’t manage to get child care while I went to school,” Poore said.

Convenience is another factor. Topper said it was hard for many parents to come home from work, pick up their children, feed their families and get to GTCC’s downtown Greensboro campus for night classes. But GTCC is offering the entire program at the eastern Guilford County school.

“The location’s good,” Lewis said. “I’m five minutes from home.”

It also doesn’t hurt that Sedalia administrators are committed to making the class work.

Thursday evening, as students dined on ham sandwiches, potato chips and lemon creme cookies, one woman hadn’t arrived, and Topper feared she might not have a ride.

“One of us might have to go out there and get her,” Topper told Hyman. However, the woman came in a few minutes later.

Students in the GED class get basic lessons in math, reading, writing and social studies. On Thursday, instructor Crystal McCombs explained topics ranging from how to calculate fractions to the difference between a sentence and a fragment.

“It’s more like a one-room school,” McCombs said. “You have people at all levels.”

Topper said the program will pay benefits to Sedalia. It gives parents and school officials a chance to talk and, hopefully, some parents can use their GED to get better-paying jobs. That’s important at a school where about half the students qualify for free lunch.

But Topper said the biggest benefit is the message adults send to children by returning to school.

That’s what Lisa Shotwitharrow, a GED student with two siblings in school, thinks.

“I wanted to set an example for them,” she said.

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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