Second Chance

ABE/GED program gives 2 students a second chance


The following speech was written and presented by Toni Coleman, a former District 214 Community Education ABE/GED student.

My name is Toni Coleman. I am 44 years old and a mother of five. I dropped out of school when I was a sophomore in high school, at the age of 16. I was a very rebellious teenager who left home at 16 so partying became my life and school just didn’t fit in with my partying.

I became a mother at 18 and spent most of my adult life being a stay-at-home mom. My children’s ages are 11 to 27. I basically kept telling myself I would further my education when I got a chance. In raising my children it seemed like that time would never come. All of my children are grown now except for my youngest, who really doesn’t need me that much anymore now, so I said it was now or never to further my education.

Being a mom is great, but I want to do something more with my life. My current occupation is personal assistant to the elderly. I love helping people, so I would very much like to advance in the field that I work in so I decided to become a registered nurse.

I know that I have not received my high school diploma, so I thought getting my GED was the first place I should start. I enrolled in Community Education’s ABE/GED program last August. When classes first started, I was informed of what I was going to be up against being that I’ve dropped out of school in the 10th grade. 

Before I got my scores back from the placement test, I thought I was rather intelligent. I mean I am but there were a lot of things I needed to brush up on in English. I mean I didn’t even know how to write an essay. Now I do! As far as math goes, I could only remember up to 5th grade level. My confidence was shot, but I was determined to get my GED so I kept coming to classes.

Ms. Maureen, Ms. Vanessa, and Ms. Roberta, God, and my family helped me regain my confidence. I also had a classmate who is now a friend for life named Donna who stuck it out with me. The three teachers that I named were so awesome. They gave me all the detailed information I needed to pass the test.

They broke down their information into its simplest form which helped me a lot. When I went to take the test I was very prepared. When I got the letter saying I passed on the first try, I just simply couldn’t believe it. All of the doubting myself and my capabilities subsided. At that point I knew I could accomplish anything.

I am currently attending Harper College and enrolled in its CNA program while trying to complete the prerequisites that I need to enter the RN program.

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The following essay was written by Donna Gearhart, a former District 214 Community Education ABE/GED student.

In real life, there are many different roads a person may choose to follow. I have traveled down many roads in my life to date. The most recent one was the completion of my high school equivalence test. By doing this, I was endowed with the confidence, endorsements, and faith of my teachers. There were only a mere three but were the best teachers I ever had the pleasure to learn from. I will tell you about them in the order in which I met them.

The first teacher was Maureen Ruddy, who taught math that fall semester. Maureen is an extremely dedicated women and educator. After speaking with her on a personal basis, we both discovered that in life we have quite a lot in common. She was able to bring out in me the beginnings of the confidence I would require to complete my goal.

My second teacher was Vanessa Cannon, who taught advanced math. Vanessa is also very dedicated to her students. She strives to assist her students in any way she is able to achieve the students goals. Even during winter break, Vanessa met with me and two other students to tutor us more in math, algebra, etc. It is rare to find someone like Vanessa but I am happy to say that I did.

Last but not least, was Roberta Pennett, who taught reading, writing and the United States and Illinois Constitutions. Roberta is very unique and a strong teacher. She expected her students to use the full time allotted for her class. Truly, not one minute was ever wasted. I learned so much from Roberta. For some reason, she knew that I would pass everything. It must have been her experience with past students.

In conclusion, thanks to three wonderful teachers I was able to fulfill a promise I made to my mother and to myself. I added myself only after I had the experience of the classes. These three women devoted their time, knowledge, and compassion to me and all the students. My only wish is that all the students can visualize that. I owe my future to Maureen, Vanessa and Roberta. They will always have a special place in my heart. I am currently still coming into school to pay it forward. It’s the least I can do for myself.