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GED: A good place to start

If you are not a native Pagosan, imagine for a moment that you are.

You have an entry level job in Pagosa and family in the area.

You are a single mom with five children.

You understand the value of education and are willing to work hard to provide for your family.

You do not have a high school diploma, but you want to be a nurse.

Where do you start?

This is the situation Jessica Thomas finds herself in. She started to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse by enrolling in the GED program at the Archuleta County Education Center. When she has her GED certificate, she will enroll in a nursing program offered by Pueblo Community College.

Because most of the classes required for this degree are available through the Education Center, she will be able to continue living in Pagosa Springs while she pursues her nursing degree.

Jessica is only one of over 50 Pagosans ages 17 to 50-plus who are currently enrolled in the GED program. All share Jessica’s desire for more education and the possibility of a more prosperous future.

Jessica says, “I have to push myself now, but I know a better education will be worth the effort.”

Although a GED certificate does not guarantee a better job, studies show that a GED most often increases the annual salary of high school dropouts by 5-10 percent. The GED is recognized by most trade schools and community colleges as equivalent to a high school diploma. All branches of the military normally reserve a few slots for recruits holding GED certificates.

The GED program is self-paced. A student receives the GED certificate after passing five exams, one in each of the areas of reading, writing, social studies, science and math. The Education Center is the only site in Archuleta County authorized to give the GED exams.

Adequate preparation before taking the GED exams is important because each exam costs $30. The Fatherhood Initiative, as well as the Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) pay the exam fee for qualifying students. Both programs are administered by the Department of Human Services.

Enrollment in the GED instructional program is free, because the Education Center receives a federal grant through the Adult and Family Literacy Unit of the Colorado Department of Education. Because the demand for GED services throughout Colorado far exceeds the available funds, the Education Center must provide a 40 percent match. Funding for the match comes from the Pagosa Springs community.

You can be part of our community’s support for the GED and other programs by attending the Education Center’s 10th annual Luncheon Fund-raiser. Enjoy a nice lunch, talk with friends and learn how the Education Center is serving some of the greatest educational needs of our community. Listen to students like Jessica describe what it means to have GED, community college classes and other programs available in Pagosa Springs. You will see the connection between investing in education and a prosperous community.

The luncheon will be held on Leap Day, Wednesday, Feb. 29, at the Pagosa Lodge on U.S. 160.

The format of the luncheon has been designed for busy people. Arrive at 11:45 a.m. and leave at 1 p.m.

Tickets are available for a $50 donation. Have friends or associates? Buy tickets for a table. Tickets can be purchased at the Education Center (4th and Lewis streets) and at the Chamber of Commerce (402 San Juan St.).

For more information, call the Education Center at 264-2835.

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