“With all the plant closings that have been going on lately, the few jobs that are out there require a high school diploma or better,” she said. “So a lot of people come into get their GED to find a job, or find a better job.”
She said that her students have additional motivations, though.
“A lot of them are also motivated to help their children learn the importance of education,” she said.
Sheri Bennett was working on math in the back of Norton’s classroom Thursday morning. She said that her participation in the GED program has afforded her more than just a piece of paper.
“I came here to get a better job,” she said. “I volunteer here in the afternoons and work on schoolwork during the day. I wanted to get a job in a factory, most likely weaving, when I first came here, but I’ve kind of gotten used to answering the phones. Now I’m thinking maybe some type of work like a secretary.”
She said that during her volunteer work, she’s gained some valuable work skills.
“They taught me how to use computers, how to file paperwork, answer the phone professionally and how to get along well with others,” she said.
Ashley Mercado sat across the room. She also was motivated to get her GED so she could get a better job.
“I’m also taking care of my disabled grandmother and my three kids,” she said. “I want to get something in the medical field, probably a nursing assistant. I’d also really like to show my kids how important it is to get an education, and establish some financial security for them.”
Sheila Jenks has a high school diploma, but she worked her entire career in the textile industry as a machine operator and a criller. Since being laid off she decided to attend Richmond Community College to study human services.
“I’m doing this to find the job I want,” she said. “I’ve been out of school for 26 years and there were a few things I needed to get stronger in to take a curriculum at the college.”
She was practicing algebra, solving equations to find the value of variables. “It’s killing me, though,” she said.