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.
Kristani and Bryson Kovach are not high school sweethearts in the traditional sense. Then again, neither of their experiences with high school were traditional at first, either.
Growing up, Katie Reigelsperger had little support from her parents, who struggled with substance abuse. Over the years, Katie was in and out of the foster care system and struggled to find the stability and guidance that she needed to make healthy choices. Then, at the age of 13, she found out she was pregnant.
Seven years ago, Karen Narvaez arrived in the United States from Nicaragua with little knowledge of the English language, but with a strong thirst for knowledge and a drive to succeed. After seeking out basic English courses, she was referred to The Excel Center by a friend in 2015. Unsure at the time of her ultimate career and education goals, Karen enrolled at The Excel Center part-time, with the idea that earning her diploma would help improve her fluency in English. However, Karen’s motivation soon began to change. Despite a transportation barrier, she set — and accomplished — her goal of attending school every day, and even completed her courses at the top of her class in Anderson.
Zachary Mobley, 30, may be one of the first students to attend the newest campus in Bloomington, but he is no stranger to The Excel Center®. Zachary first attended the University Heights location in 2017, making the drive from Bloomington to Indianapolis with his sister daily. Though he received a Certificate of Completion in his youth, Zachary struggled to find consistent, gainful employment without a diploma.
Two years ago, if you had asked April Williams if she thought she would ever graduate high school, the answer likely would have been “no”.
Tom Wood Ford recently hosted an open house for Goodwill’s Excel Center students, graduates and mission program participants to learn firsthand about employment opportunities and a service tech apprenticeship program.
Itzel Quintero is a mother of five children with a strong sense of will and determination. Initially living in California, Itzel and her family settled down in Indiana to start over and relieve some of their financial burdens. However, new financial barriers emerged after the cross country move. Itzel struggled to find solid employment that would allow her to provide for her children.