Since January 2018, Robert Harris has been pursuing his GED through CHRISTUS Learning Center. One of the seven mission programs of CHRISTUS Foundation for HealthCare, CHRISTUS Learning Center offers Adult ESL classes, Adult Basic Education classes, and GED classes year-round. Students in the Adult Basic Education and GED classes are able to move at their own pace, allowing them to effectively master the material in order to successfully pass the high school equivalency exam. Harris was scheduled to take the first of four exams when COVID-19 suddenly halted his completion.
With CHRISTUS Learning Center forced to close its doors temporarily due to social distancing measures, GED instructor Yolanda Hunt was determined to keep Harris on track. Everyday Hunt calls Harris for a 20 minute review and to assign a writing assignment. She is also teaching him how to handle a GED prompt, so that when the testing centers re-open he will be successful in his tests. According to Hunt, she is “realizing this is a new day” with distance learning. “I am having to adjust and the students are as well to doing non-classroom teaching.”
Hunt is willing to do what is needed, even distance learning, to meet their goals and needs. “When I come to work, it’s not about me, it’s about them,” Hunt said. “They put aside their education in the past, and they are now making up for it.”
Harris is one of those students. After dropping out of school at a young age, he is now trying to get back on track. In addition to preparing him for the GED, CHRISTUS Learning Center has helped him improve his basic reading, writing and math skills to obtain a job, which he has retained for over a year.
“I have a big smile on my face when the students get the work,” Hunt said. “They have a lot of fears – fear about math, fear about reading. When they have made up their mind to come back into education, it is because society has said you cannot succeed if you do not have a high school diploma. They realize they have to give up all of their excuses.”
For Harris, who does bike deliveries in the downtown area for Jimmy Johns, the GED is about trying to get a better job. However, Harris also has college in his sites and has found some grants that will cover his costs. He is interested in plumbing and may pursue that as a field.
In spite of COVID-19, Hunt and Harris are working hard to achieve Harris’ dreams.