Lenore King wiped away tears as she talked about what it meant to her to pass her General Educational Development (GED) test and start a new job after 10 years out of the workforce.
“When I heard I passed, I just sat in the bathroom and cried,” she said. “If you want something bad enough, you have to try.”
Ms. King, 46, signed up her daughter, April, 18, at the Literacy Council of Tyler so April could take the GED prep course. Ms. King was resigned to her life of living off her disability check since an injury forced her to stop working in 2003.
“Back in the day, you could get a job without a GED easily,” she said. “Now you have to have one. I thought, ‘That’s it, this is my future.’”
But after learning more about the prep course, Ms. King decided to take the class with her daughter.
“I was going to see her through,” she said. “I didn’t want her to say, ‘You don’t have your GED, why should I?’”
April dropped out of school when she was a junior, so she “breezed through” the prep course and test. Ms. King said. But Ms. King dropped out of eighth grade decades ago; she struggled with the course, especially algebra, she said.
“She would call and say, ‘I’m stupid, I can’t do this,’” said Rich Roper, her course instructor at the Literacy Council. “I would tell her she could do it and not to talk like that.”
The King women were enrolled in a special advanced course that met for six weeks, four nights a week, three hours a night.
“We tell them it’s a lot,” Roper said.
Still the women had perfect attendance, he said. One night, the class was taking a practice exam, and the two weren’t in attendance. He ran into April in the hall a few minutes after class began. The two had gotten in a car wreck that night but came straight to class from the hospital anyway. Ms. King was hobbling toward the class on crutches with stitches.
“Mr. Roper said if we didn’t come, we would miss something,” she said. “I didn’t want to miss anything. I needed everything he could give me.”
For Roper, the hard work of his students is why he enjoys his job.
“It means the world to me,” he said. “We’re a nonprofit, so we don’t make a lot, but when we can call and give our students good news (that they passed the test), that’s how we get paid.”
The King women were lucky to even be able to take the test; the prices for the test have gone up, and some of the organization’s funding from the government has been cut.
“Shine Your Light is an answer to prayer,” Nancy Crawford, executive director, said.