2011-12-29 / Front Page

Owen County Learning Network Shares Local GED Success Story

by Laurie Pashley
Special to the Spencer Evening World

GED student Robert Wilke (left) is pictured alongside his tutors, Brad and Deb Thurston. (Courtesy Photo) GED student Robert Wilke (left) is pictured alongside his tutors, Brad and Deb Thurston. (Courtesy Photo) The world news is currently full of reports of failures, so it is encouraging when there are success stories to share with our community.

Last month one of the students in the Owen County Learning Network’s GED class received his GED certificate. Everyone who knew Robert Wilke was delighted to hear of his accomplishment. However, two people in the community, Brad and Deb Thurston, were especially thrilled, because they had been his tutors.

Robert dropped out of high school when he was seventeen, since he was not on track to receive a diploma and was not making educational progress. However, he knew that he needed to obtain a GED. With encouragement from his father, Robert enrolled in GED classes shortly after he moved to Owen County. He attempted to work through the math book on his own but realized he could use some additional help, and the GED teacher suggested he work with a tutor.

Through the library’s Adult Literacy Program, Robert was matched with a tutor, Brad Thurston. For the next year and a half, Robert and Brad worked on algebra, geometry and multiplication tables. Having a tutor helped Robert because they could take the time to thoroughly cover fractions, algebra, and negative numbers. If there was something Robert struggled to understand, Brad would take the time to explain it another way. Eventually, Deb Thurston joined her husband and helped Robert work on his essay writing skills. Between the two of them, the Thurston’s provided Robert with encouragement and support, because they never doubted that he would pass the GED.

Robert stated that, “In the world today, you have to have an education to get anywhere in life, and if you don’t have one you are going to get left behind... I feel that a big problem with me not finding work was my lack of education.”

Now Robert can focus on his future goals of finding a job and eventually enrolling in culinary school.

Literacy and lack of education affect individuals, their families, and ultimately our entire community. Anyone who has one to two hours per week to give towards helping a student will find it a very rewarding opportunity. Tutors in the library’s volunteer literacy program have helped individuals work on spelling, math, reading and comprehension, finances, learning English, GED classes, and Ivy Tech courses. For further information on volunteering, enrolling in GED Classes, or seeking tutoring help, please contact Rachel Carver at 829-5869, Laurie Pashley at 829-3392, or pick up informational brochures on the main floor of the library.

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