It’s never too late

Published 8:28 am Friday, August 15, 2014

As supervisor of adult education for Washington Parish, Penny Moses can’t fathom the idea of why more adults who failed to graduate high school don’t take advantage of the opportunity before them.

She said it’s certainly not the cost. Nor can it be a long drive since classes are taught in Bogalusa, Franklinton and Pine. Bogalusa classes are taught on the second floor at Northside Technical Middle School.

“It doesn’t cost (the students) a dime to come to this school, climb those stairs and go into that classroom to get that education,” Moses said. “It’s free. I need that person when they walk in here — whether they’re 16 or 92 — to be committed, consistent and dedicated. If you bring those three characteristics, you’re going to grow and get that high school equivalency diploma.”

Moses said the program has experienced some changes this school year.

“We are a parent resource center. We had to move upstairs so that Bogalusa City Schools could bring over its alternative school program. It is housed in the building here with us.”

Moses said adult education is sorely needed.

“There are over 7,000 citizens in Washington Parish alone between the ages of 18 and 25 that do not have a high school diploma, so there is the need for that” Moses said. “We need an outreach where the newspaper and radio helps to let people know about the program. We’ve put campaign signs out to let people know. We have signs in Franklinton and Pine. The surrounding community needs to know there is a location for these classes that is conveniently located for Washington Parish citizens to get into the program. My key word again is ‘free.’”

Moses said students have 21st century tools to learn.

“Our students are being given opportunities to be exposed to more digital learning,” Moses said. “We have digital learning in the classrooms this year. We have computers, laptops and iPads to prepare student for the HiSET.”

Moses said students have the option of testing on computers or on paper.

“What happens is when they get ready to test, they can do computer-based tests,” Moses said. “With digital learning, it makes you less likely to be afraid or tense having that form of test available. I’ve found younger students will choose a computer test over a paper test. I’ve noticed students lean more to computer-based tests because they have feedback after the tests and you see an immediate reaction. On paper tests, they have to wait six to 10 days for the tests to be scored. (Computer testing) builds confidence and self-esteem. You can plan for computer tests. It’s there when you are ready for testing.”

Moses said the program currently has 286 students, short of the goal of 330. The program served 136 last year.

“Bogalusa has more than 136 that need their high school equivalency credentials,” Moses said.

Students have their choice of learning at five campuses. Day classes in Bogalusa are from 8 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday. Evening classes are 5-8 p.m., Monday and Tuesday. Franklinton day classes are from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Evening classes are 5-8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursdays. Pine evening classes are 5-8 p.m., Monday-Wednesday.

Classes include instruction in language arts-reading, language arts-writing, math, science and social studies.

“We make sure students receive the undivided attention they need based on their assessment,” Moses said.

Husband and wife Brandon and Latoria Kemp are taking adult education classes together. He is 32 and dropped out of Varnado High School his junior year.

“I’m learning a lot of stuff in reading, math and language,” Brandon said. “My wife basically made me come back.”

Nick Graham, 21, dropped out in junior high and currently is employed at a Bogalusa fast food restaurant.

“A few months back I realized I needed to get an education and better myself,” Graham said.

Moses said the program is operating on a shoestring budget.

“We sort of like feel like a stepchild because this is one of the most important programs the community needs,” Moses said. “We’re operating on a budget of less than $200,000 and offering five sites of instruction. Your community is no better than the citizens we educate in the community.”

Moses said the program and staff have the tools to benefit all those who come.

“It’s like you being invited to a banquet and everything is in place,” Moses said. “The food is out, and all you need to do is sit at the table and partake of the resource that is there to help you get your HiSET. When you get the right people working for you, it’s going to work.”