Student stories tell of obstacles overcome to reach education - February 12, 2008

Record Number: 3822
Displayed from: Feb 12, 2008 , until: Feb 26, 2008

Ninety Continuing Education students who completed their high school programs from January through December 2007 will participate in a graduation ceremony at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, Scottish Rite Auditorium. Students will receive a GED certificate or high school diploma. The Literacy Alliance will host a reception prior to the ceremony from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. in the lower level ballroom of the Scottish Rite Center. The highlight of the program will be student speakers: Elizabeth Minnick quit school because she couldn't grasp what was being taught. As she struggled, kids called her stupid, and before long she believed them. She married at 18, worked, raised a family, and went through difficult times. One day she decided, "I'm going to stand up and go to school... It was the scariest moment of my life when I made that call. She wasn't sure she could be successful but found her classmates at Anthis Career center had similar experiences and goals. Her teachers provided the support and encouragement she needed. Her next step is college, and she wants to become a lawyer dedicated to providing affordable assistance. Dan Schindler liked school, but by age 15 he was on his own and working full time to take care of himself. He left school his senior year, but always wanted to go back. Three things prompted him to return: Classmates at Eastside High School invited him to their 20th class reunion, which gave him momentum to get his diploma; he learned he had a 16-year-old son and wanted to set a good example; and he wanted to get a new job but knew options were limited without a diploma. Dan now plans to attend Ivy Tech and explore career choices. Deon Stanford wanted to finish school a long time ago, but her dedication to home and family made finishing difficult. As she got older, she worried about being able to go back to school. A friend persuaded her to enroll at The Literacy Alliance's Fellowship Learning Center beginning in June 2005. She was encouraged by her tutor and her son, as well as her granddaughter who was doing algebra and geometry in school. They became homework partners. Deon has applied to Indiana Tech and while she is still deciding what to study, she knows the door is open to higher learner. I have faith in me now, she said.
Tracy Steup thought about jobs she would like over the years, but she didn't pursue them because she didn't have a high school diploma. She dropped out of high school to become a mom. Tracy always wanted to return to school, and as her children grew older, that desire increased. She had trouble helping her children with their homework and wanted to set a good example by showing them how important it is to finish school. She also wanted to make their lives better by going to college and starting a career. Tracy was frightened when she returned to school and almost turned around to go home when she started walking down the hallway to her first class. She was pleasantly surprised to find accepting students of all ages with similar goals, respectful teachers, and a classroom environment that ensured success. She now plans to go to college and pursue a Physical Therapy degree. Aaron Williams was so ashamed that he had dropped out of school his senior year that he couldn't even tell his wife. He always meant to tell her, but he was afraid she would lose respect for him, even though he was hard-working and a father of two. When he finally worked up the courage to tell his wife, she encouraged him to go back to school. He quickly earned his diploma and is relieved that he no longer carries the burden of his secret.

With nearly 30,000 students, Fort Wayne Community Schools is one of the largest school districts in Indiana. FWCS proudly allows families to choose any of its 50 schools through its successful school-choice program creating diversity in each school, including some with more than 75 languages spoken. FWCS offers seven magnet schools focusing on areas such as science and math, communication, fine arts or Montessori at the elementary and middle school level. In high school, students can choose from the prestigious International Baccalaureate program, Project Lead the Way or New Tech Academy as well as other rigorous academic and specialty training programs.