For Hoosiers needing a GED, now’s the time to prepare for test
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent February 15, 2013 6:10PM
Charlie Gregson, 63, of Cedar Lake, (right) smiles as he talks with director Stacey Previs about algebra at the Lowell Adult Learning Center in Lowell, Ind. Thursday February 14, 2013. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
At a glance
The Center of Workforce Innovations has adult GED preparation available at the following locations:
Chesterton Adult Learning Center, 100 W. Indiana Ave.
Hours: 6 to 9 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
Phone: 2921-0567, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Crown Point Adult Learning Center, 928-B S. Court St., Lakeview Square Shopping Center
Hours: 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 5 to 9 p.m. Monday and Wednesday
Phone 663-5465, email: email@example.com
Hobart Adult Learning Center, 100 Main St.
Hours: noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4 to 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday
Phone: 942-2243 Ext. 317, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jasper County Adult Learning Center, 9991 W. County Road 1200N, DeMotte
Hours: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
Phone: 863-9145, email: email@example.com
Jasper County Adult Learning Center, 1027 S. College Ave., Rensselaer
Hours: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday
Phone: 863-8591, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lowell Adult Learning Center, 151 N. FremontHours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesday
Phone: 696-6777, email: email@example.com
Pulaski County Adult Learning Center, 121 S. Riverside Drive & 125 S. Riverside, Winamac
Hours: 4 to 7 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday and Thursday
Phone: 574-242-0131, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Starke County Adult Learning Center, 6 N. Shield St., Knox
Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. Registration at 3 p.m. Monday and Wednesday
Phone: 574-249-8720, email: email@example.com
Starke County Adult Learning Center, Wayne Township Public Library, 208 Keller Ave., North Judson
Hours: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday
Phone: 574-896-2841, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tri-Town Adult Learning Center, 1515 Lincoln Highway, Schererville
Hours: noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday
Phone: 322-6700, email: email@example.com
Valparaiso Adult Learning Center, 505 Bullseye Lake Road
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday
Phone: 462-4230, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WorkOne Integrated Learning Services, inside the Portage WorkOne
Hours: For WorkOne clients only
Phone: 762-6592, email: email@example.com
Updated: February 15, 2013 8:01PM
Abel Garza, of Cedar Lake, never expected to be out looking for another job.
At 55 years old the first-class journeyman welder and union member always imagined he would finish his career at the same company he started with 32 years ago when his father called him to come to work. He never graduated high school.
However a mass layoff last year at Hanson Material Service in Thornton, Ill., left him unemployed, struggling to make ends meet and looking for work without a high school diploma.
He is working to change that by studying for his GED at the Lowell Adult Learning Center, one of 12 such neighborhood adult education sites run by the Center of Workforce Innovations, a nonprofit agency that serves Lake, Porter, Jasper, Starke and Pulaski counties.
“With the GED hopefully it will be easier to get a job,” Garza said.
Stacey Previs, a teacher at the Lowell center, said now is the time for people interested in obtaining their GEDs to do so. Changes in the test that will bring it more in-line with state and federal educational standards will take place in 2014. Cost for taking the test will also rise from about $70 to around $150.
“For some people that is going to be a real problem,” Previs said.
Attendance at the learning centers, which requires a one-time $20 registration fee and a commitment to complete nine hours of training a week, gives participants access to all the materials they need to study for the test and provides the opportunity to take sample tests after every 40 hours of participation to gauge readiness to take the state exam.
If a student cannot pass the sample test, she said, it makes no sense for them to shell out the $70 for the state exam. Students can stay at the learning center as long as necessary to prepare for the test. Most participants attend for about four or five months before taking the GED test.
Participation offers other benefits as well. Garza was referred to the center through Work One, where he went for job-search assistance. Because he was collecting unemployment benefits and willing to go back to school, the agency is providing him with mortgage assistance that will help him keep his payments current as he continues his job search.
Job not always the goal
Garza said to receive the assistance he must participate in the classes or, once he gets his GED, go on to technical or college courses or go out on work assignments the agency gives him until permanent employment is found.
Garza is one of about 30 students — who range in age from 17 to 63 — attending the Lowell center. Miche Grant, adult education director for CWI, said about 40 percent of the students are under the age of 28 but the economy is bringing more older learners back into the fold.
The reasons people attend the centers are as varied as their ages and the neighborhoods in which the centers are located. The goal, Grant said, is to get participants ready and trained for jobs available in their own communities.
While each center is equipped to provide GED training and the practice tests that help get students ready to pass the state exam, each location is tailored to fit the needs of the particular community. Some provide English as a second language training, competency training for college entrance exams and a location for home-schooled high school students to get their certification.
Charlie Gregson, of Cedar Lake, started attending the Lowell center to keep his mind active.
“I was tired of sitting at home,” the 63-year-old said. While Gregson, a retired engineer for the EJ&E Railroad is not looking for a job, he would like to see if he can get his GED and is enjoying the one-on-one interaction with the teachers and volunteers who provide the training.
“If I had teachers like these here back then, I probably would have stayed in high school,” Gregson said.
Grant said through the partnerships with communities such as the Cedar Creek Township trustee, who provides use of the building at no cost, and agencies like Work One, the centers are able to provide students with a low cost way to get their GEDs and continue their education further linking them with financial assistance for trade and community college training.
“Really I think the GED is not the end product we are supporting. We need to help people see a GED opens the door and creates opportunity,” she said.