October is National Dropout Prevention Month. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 12% of Hoosier working age adults lack a high school diploma. The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s free high school for adults, is working to decrease that rate by allowing adult students the opportunity to pick up where they left off in school, providing support and resources to meet their goals.
(Photos taken prior to the onset of COVID-19)
Haley Ring, 27, decided to return to high school as an adult because of something her eldest daughter, who is 11 years old, once said to her.
In 2015, Georgina Palma-Santos was pregnant with her first child at the age of 16. Her traditional high school was not designed to support students with children. Seeking other options, Georgina enrolled in an online school but felt like the lack of structure was difficult to manage while raising a newborn. When she heard about The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s high school for adults, she was relieved to have a school with a childcare option.
Katie Reigelsperger started at The Excel Center-Anderson in October of 2013 with zero high school credits after giving birth to her first son at the age of 13. An exceptional student, Katie seized all of the opportunities The Excel Center offered her and graduated in June 2014 with 42 credits and two industry-recognized certifications, including a pharmacy technician certification.
There are 460,000 working-age Hoosiers who lack a high school diploma. Prior to The Excel Center, Goodwill’s free high school for adults, there were few options for people like Jacob Barrett who wanted to earn one.
Becky Escareño graduated from The Excel Center, Goodwill’s free high school for adults, in 2017. Mother of two, Becky not only graduated with an Indiana high school diploma, but she also earned industry-recognized certifications — all at no cost.
From navigating new Zoom classrooms to grading homework late into the evening and planning lessons over the weekend, teachers continue to put their students first and be heroes in our communities. To celebrate these hardworking individuals, since 1984, the National PTA® - which is comprised of millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders - has designated one week in May as a special time to honor the men and women who lend their passion and skills to education.
The past few weeks have been difficult for the entire nation. Indiana, especially, has been tested like no other time in recent memory as our state continues to observe stay-at-home orders and practice social distancing. While this has certainly been challenging, individuals across the state are doing the right things to flatten the curve, beat COVID-19 and save lives.
Martha Bess has always had a love of learning, but personal barriers prevented her from finishing high school as a teenager. She married at 14 years old and started her own family, which grew to include six children. Over 20 years later, she began working with her church’s homeschool co-op, where her children attended, and soon discovered her own love of teaching. To advance her career and to continue to set a good example for her children, she knew she would need a high school diploma.