When Literacy Services of Wisconsin student Nikita Jones first enrolled in the GED program, he already had his high school diploma. So why, then, did he begin studying with us? Did he want to get another secondary school credential just for fun?
As “fun” as that might be, Nik, not surprisingly, has a different goal – to become an electrician. However, in order for him to gain entrance to the training that would ready him for a skilled trades apprenticeship, he needed to increase his ability in math. Enter LSW’s GED program. As math is one of the four GED subjects, and as we are fortunate to have many skilled math tutors, we are well positioned to apply our programmatic expertise to other community needs beyond GED acquisition. It only makes sense for us to do so. Using the skills and knowledge embedded in our GED program in additional workforce applications means the program has relevance for even more people in the community.
In order to give Nik the math boost necessary to pursue his goal, he would need a skilled guide. Enter tutor Chris Colby. Chris has been tutoring with LSW for eight years. Prior to this, he spent 30 years as a trainer, primarily with GE, designing and conducting training sessions for the use of medical equipment. A veteran of putting courses together for thousands of people, Chris says of his LSW experience, “For me this is so luxurious because I have one student at a time.” While the content of the tutoring he does at LSW certainly is at variance from that of his professional work, the fundamental approach is not so different. Doing a needs analysis of the student and emphasizing student engagement as fully and as immediately as possible are skills Chris brings which mesh seamlessly with the approach I encourage in the GED program. Through leveraging Chris’s heightened sensitivity to the learning dynamic, gained through his many years of professional experience, LSW has been able to steadfastly support Nik as he pursues his goal.
Chris says of Nik’s effort, “He comes in with his family, he’s coming from his job, he’s got his overalls on… He’s a working guy and he’s really trying hard. It’s hard not to love that.”
Nik’s math skills have improved dramatically in the course of his work at LSW. He will soon test to gain entrance to apprenticeship readiness training, which is the next step toward his goal. With the increase in his skills has come an increase in his confidence. While obviously beneficial to him in his pursuit of becoming an electrician, his preparation at LSW has led to other important residual effects. He has felt more comfortable and confident helping his children with th
eir homework. Observes Nik, “Before, they would go straight to their mom and now they’ll come and ask me. It makes me feel good that I’m able to help them and that they feel confident enough to come up and ask me.” Additionally, Nik has noticed his increased confidence when making calculations at his job.
Of his experience at LSW, Nik says, “It’s like a family. You get a warm feeling when you get here. You know everybody and everybody knows you. Like ‘Cheers,’” he laughs, “everybody knows your name.” Of his tutor, Chris, Nik says, “He pushes you. He sees if you’re struggling. He’s patient. He encourages me… I’ve learned a lot from him.” Speaking more broadly Nik adds, “I still have a lot of work to do, but I’ve come a long way.”