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
3–27-04
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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