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The Anderson County Adult Education Program celebrated 18 students who recently received their GED certification Monday of last week at the high school auditorium.
Another special milestone was marked, the adult education program’s 25th anniversary.
Jacqueline Zeller, community education director, chronicled the humble beginnings of the adult education program, which started from the diligence of Helen Shryock, a retired Anderson County High School home economics teacher.
Shryock had a vision to offer educational opportunities for adults and sought to create a community education program.
In 1989, she presented a proposal to the Anderson County Board of Education, asking for $5,000 to start the program.
Shryock used a spare bedroom in her home as the initial office for the program and hired Donna Whiteneck as a part-time secretary to schedule classes for students.
At the time, Bluegrass Community Action took charge of the GED program. Literacy classes were conducted at the library and Shryock tutored students pursuing their GED certification.
With the help of LaVerne Brumley, a lifelong educator, Shryock applied for a Kentucky Adult Education grant. Bluegrass Community Action agreed to transfer the program to the adult education program and they opened their first facility at 124 South Main Street.
Brumley and Shryock continued their close partnership to provide development classes, adult education and literacy classes. Though both are currently retired, they still serve on the adult education program’s advisory committee.
Darlene Urban, a former Capital Day School in Frankfort employee, also worked as a part-time college teacher and GED instructor under Brumley. In 2003, Urban became the director of the adult learning center. She worked for the adult education program for 16 years and saw the evolution of the program, including the move to their current location at 219 East Woodford Street.
Brumley, Shryock and Urban were all honored for contributing to the adult education program’s success and their lifelong commitment to education with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Three students shared their success stories. All agreed that without the support of family, friends and the caring teachers at the Anderson County Adult Education Program, achieving their GED certification might not have been possible.
Anna Maria Wolford became pregnant at the age of 16. With little help, Wolford said she had few options and dropped out of high school to work two to three jobs to help support her child.
Wolford described pursuing her GED certification and attending Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lawrenceburg as the best decisions she’s ever made. Wolford is currently in her second semester at BCTC, where she is studying to be a surgical tech.
Minnie Imogene Lewis never graduated high school, and she said she always felt like she was “missing out.” After she retired, Lewis made it a priority to obtain her GED certification 41 years after she dropped out of school.
“I wanted to make my family proud as well as myself,” Lewis said.
Timothy Dewayne Stewart, 47, who described himself as a headstrong teen, dropped out of high school at the age of 17, and entered the workforce.
He was successfully employed for 24 years until the recession hit, and he found himself with little education and a slim chance of finding another job. He said the same day he filed for unemployment, he also enrolled for classes at the Anderson County Adult Education Program.
He credited his family and the teachers at the adult learning center for believing in him and encouraging him to complete his GED certification.
“Rarely do we get the opportunity to right a wrong,” Stewart said. “My GED helped me right a wrong I made years ago to quit high school.”
Stewart’s mother, Estella Stewart, said she was very proud of him and couldn’t ask for a better son.
“I never doubted for a minute that he could do it,” she said.
Estella Stewart truly understands the depth of her son’s achievement because she, too, dropped out of high school and went back 27 years later to obtain her GED certification.
Derek Shouse gave the closing remarks for the ceremony. He acknowledged that none of the graduates ever anticipated not finishing school, but sometimes “life happens.”
“It’s exciting to see students overcome obstacles,” Shouse said.
The students turned their tassels to the right, signifying they were official adult learning center graduates.
Each student is a part of the Anderson County Adult Education Program’s success, adding to a 25-year legacy of helping students achieve their goals.
2013/2014 Anderson County GED graduates
•Lanie Nicole Bethel
•Christopher Lee Aldridge
•Jessica Anna Anglin
•Johnathan Glenn Collins
•Christina Lynn Gibson
•Kilsy Annette Gonzalez
•Cierra LaShae Harmon
•Nicholas Alexander Hedges
•Kevin Lee Jackson
•Allison Adrian Jarrell
•Winston John Jarrell
•Linda Louise Lawson
•Minnie Imogene Lewis
•Angela Kay Rennie
•Timothy Dewayne Stewart
•Christa Marie Thompson
•Melvin Douglas Waldridge
•Anna Maria Wolford
Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients
•Helen Shryock, retired ACE director and educator
•LaVerne Brumley, retired ACE director and educator
•Darlene Urban Gray, retired ACE director and educator