Did you miss out on getting your high school diploma? Life may have led you away from completing your studies in the usual setting or on the timeline that was expected. Support is here.

Free education on a flexible schedule is available in Payson. Gila County Education Services Agency (GCESA), under the leadership of Roy Sandoval, Gila County School Superintendent, offers classes so adult learners can earn their Arizona High School Equivalency Certificate by passing GED tests.

Once participants are assessed and enrolled, they can choose their study hours to work around employment and family responsibilities. Flexibility is key to the success of the program, and more importantly, to the success of the students. Some come to the classroom two to four hours per week, while others opt for as many as 10- or 12-hour sessions. Recently, teaching hours have been increased and classroom help is available morning, afternoon and evening hours Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

One diligent student says, “The environment is positive and friendly. Personal contact with the teachers makes all the difference. They check on progress, guide me to the next level, and are always available to teach, explain, and clear up any confusion. I benefit so much!”

For the past several years, students had to drive to Phoenix to take their GED tests (when testing switched from paper tests to computerized testing). Sandoval made it a priority to establish a certified testing center in Payson. Now all adult education services are consolidated and available locally.

Is going back to school a challenge? Sure. Is it difficult? Sometimes. Is it worth it? Absolutely! If you find yourself saying, “Now is my time,” please be in touch. Call 928-472-5284 Monday through Friday. Kathryne can answer questions and make an appointment to guide you through the enrollment process.

Sandoval and Adult Education Director Gail Gorry have worked to streamline and expand adult education services. Currently, GCESA is in the process of getting Integrated Education and Training coursework up and running. This new component will allow students working toward high school equivalency to gain valuable job skills training for advancement in the workplace or to seek new and better-paying career opportunities.

Gorry directly oversees classroom programs throughout the county. In Payson, Wilda Theobald has been the only classroom teacher until February of this year. She has worn many hats over the past years, and as a consequence, numerous students have gained their GED and moved on to higher education.

Also noteworthy is this interesting point shared by Superintendent Sandoval: the testing center in Payson “...turned out to be a great service to the community and the entire west. It was the only testing center open in the far western U.S. during the pandemic.”

One last fascinating fact: those who graduate high school or earn a GED can expect to earn 33% more in lifetime earnings than those without a diploma. Studying for high school equivalency and getting a GED definitely pay off.

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