As the GED candidates walk across the stage of LaRue County High School’s auditorium June 25 to receive their certificates, each will have finished a journey that was marked by dogged determination overcoming all obstacles.
One of those people is Rhiannon Robbins Ward who dropped out of a Jefferson County high school when she was a sophomore. After quitting school, Ward soon realized that a high school diploma or GED would be a necessity if she were to achieve her career goal of becoming a registered nurse.
She started some adult education classes in Jefferson County, but became frustrated.
“They mostly wanted us to learn through self-teaching books, and their teachers taught several people at one time, while I needed that one-on-one instruction,” she said, explaining why she stopped attending.
Still, that dream of becoming a nurse stayed with her, especially as she realized that she needed to be better able to help her husband Mike support their growing family.
“When we came to Hodgenville, in January 2008, I received a brochure telling about the parenting program and GED program available here, and I was determined this time to enroll and to see it through,” she said.
She entered the GED program the same month the family arrived.
“The teachers there were so good and patient with us,” she said. “I had low self-esteem but they never made me feel like I was dumb.”
She gave credit to her teacher Melcenia Sprowls-Shelton who helped her in her two hardest subjects – math and writing.
“She was my backbone, pushing me to do better, and yet, at the same time was right there, helping me along the way,” Ward said.
Ward attended classes four days each week.
“I only had to stay for one one-hour session, but I stayed for two to get the extra help,” she said. With two kids at home, and another one born seven months ago, however, she found that her best homework schedule was to study after she had put the kids to bed.
Through her perseverance and the help of her teachers, Ward passed her tests and received the GED certificate on her 25th birthday, April 16.
“That was an extra special birthday present,” she said.
She already has enrolled in the nursing program at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, following that dream that she first envisioned as a teenager.
Sarah Hornback, LaRue County director of family services, said about 13 students will be honored at commencement exercises that start at 7 p.m.
“There are awards given in each subject area and an overall award, but graduates must participate in the ceremony to receive them,” she said.
Instructors include Bob Ernst, Sprowls-Shelton, Garry Ross, Lucy Buckley and Hornback. Support staff are Millie Underwood and Rosa Kelly.
“Our staff is dedicated to helping adults succeed and understand the special challenges our students face as they juggle family, school, and jobs,” Hornback said. “Lifelong learners deserve a special salute for their willingness to risk failure in order to set a better example for their community and families. Many of our graduates recognize the importance of continuing their education and have already enrolled or plan to enroll in post-secondary classes.”