Tailored Distance Learning Available For Ged

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Zach Horsley is a young man active in Scouting, where he leads the younger Boy Scouts as they earn merit badges and rank advancement. He is also active in his church, the local drama scene, and working his part-time job at Pizza Factory.

He makes time in his schedule to study for his General Equivalancy Diploma (GED) through Rim Country Literacy for a couple of hours, once a week.

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Frank Brooks assists Zach Horsley with a math component in Horsley's GED course.

"The GED is a better way to go for me, because it has less time constraints than high school and I get to work one-on-one instead of in a classroom with 30 people or so," Horsley said.

The 16-year-old was home-schooled, until this year.

Horsley could purchase textbooks, but he likes the supervision working in RCLP's classroom He hopes to sit for his GED test by summer 2008.

Horsley is not yet certain whether his college plans will include an acting, business or technical theater major.

"I'd like to be a professional scout for the Arizona Thespian Society at the council level," he said.

The scout is the person who travels to and assists different school districts with their drama department needs.

Holly Solomon, a woman in her twenties, heard about Rim Literacy's GED program through her art instructor at Gila Community College.

She completed eleventh grade but then left school to help her mother and sister.

"That's not an excuse, although, I didn't like school growing up and my mom would have probably preferred I stay in, but I felt I need to help at home," she said.

Her situation has changed. Now she makes time to work geometry problems, write essays, read about science experiments and study American history.

"I want to take the GED to get a better job," Solomon said.

New GED program

Horsley, Solomon and the other students tutored through Rim Literacy have the option to transfer to a new GED program.

Rim Literacy has joined hands with Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County, Inc. to bring a distance learning course to northern Gila County teenagers and adults in pursuit of a GED.

Instead of a standardized GED course, each student who chooses to participate will take pre-placement tests that identify basic skill that need strengthening.

Rim Literacy administers the tests, then, sends them to Phoenix where they are analyzedd. A specific tutorial is designed for the student by Liteacy Volunteers.

The student will then download the program on their home computer and begin to study at least eight-hours on-line per week.

One of the main benefits to the new program is that the student will have live access to a Literacy Volunteers' instructor.

Students must be at least 16-years-old and not currently enrolled in high school.

"Is distance learning for me?" headlines a questionnaire provided by Literacy Volunteers.

Two of the questions are:

When a teacher hands out directions for an assignment, I prefer (a) figuring out the instructions for myself; (b) trying to follow the directions on my own, then asking for help as needed; or (c) having the the instructions explained to me.

My family or those I live with: (a) are opposed to me taking this kind of class; (b) do not really care whether I take this course or not; (c) are somewhat supportive of my taking this course; or (d) are excited and supportive of my taking this course.

These are points to ponder before enrollment.

"There is a minimum weekly requirement of eight hours," said Frank Brooks, RCLP volunteer GED coordinator.

Options and results

"The GED program Zach is on, people can't go the speed they please because they are tied to the course on the computer they started on," Brooks added.

A student could, for example, study math on the Rim Literacy computer, and study science through the same GED program at the Payson Public Library.

RCLP plans to add new internet-accessible computers after the first of the year to help those who do not have a computer at home.

"I'll probably switch programs," Solomon said, but she plans to work at Rim Literacy as well as at home, as she continues to pursue her GED.

"Here (at Rim Literacy), if I am working on the computer, if I need help, I just ask. The people here are very nice. They have a lot of patience," Solomon said.

Brooks has been a literacy volunteer in Payson for a decade.

The students who stay involved and continue to work at the program keep him coming back to teach.

"When they tell me, I was never good at math, I can't do it, then they try and I see the light bulb come on and they find out they can, that is wonderful," he said.

Rim Literacy has no record of the actual number of people helped through their GED program.

"We have had bunches. We ask students to please come back and tell us the results of their tests, but often they don't," Brooks said.

Gila Community College will administer GED tests Dec. 15 and on dates TBA in Jan., Feb. and March.

For more information on the GED programs Rim Country Literacy offers, contact them at (928) 468-7257. The office is located at 809 W. Longhorn Rd., Unit C14, Payson, and is open from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

The GED program offered by Payson Public Library is a self-study program for people ages 16-years and older.

Math, language arts, science and social studies are the main topics students will work and test through in the computer-based software program. Course books can be checked out for three weeks at a time, or purchased for $10 each.

For more information, contact the library at (928) 474-9260.

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