Latoya Ross was persistent that her son Allen, now 22, graduate from high school. She wanted to be next.
So, Ross chose to enter the Fort Worth ISD Adult Education Program and get her General Educational Development. She will now move into a program to get the certifications needed to enter the billing and coding field.
The programs are part of a partnership between the school district and the Workforce Commission of Tarrant County.
At a January school board meeting, trustees approved an amendment to the contract with the commission to increase the budget for the adult education program by $515,724.49.
According to board materials, the district received this additional funding from the workforce commission “to assist in building capacity to serve adult education students.”
The workforce commission oversees a grant for the program, said Nydia Lewis, who directs the program for Fort Worth ISD, and often pays for gas or transportation for the students.
Lewis said the district expects to serve over 2,500 adult education students this year. Classes in the program include English Second Language for professionals, Adult Basic Education/General Education Development, English Literacy and Civics, Transitions/Career Trainings and Workplace Literacy Adult Education.
The classes are free and help the adults transition into careers, Lewis said. The goal is to first get students through high school equivalency or ESL classes. Next, they can take a soft skills class to get them more prepared for the workforce.
Every month, Fort Worth ISD hosts registrations across Tarrant County. Lewis said people also can call to get information about classes and can attend in-person or online. To enroll, students just have to complete the registration process and orientation.
If they wish, students can take new career classes, like Ross, to enter an emerging field in the workforce.
Ross, who now works in insurance, said she delayed getting her GED for awhile, but realized she couldn’t put it off any longer because of the dead ends she encountered when applying for different jobs.
The courses helped her prepare for the test, Ross said. But it was her determination to succeed, find a better paying job and set an example for her kids that kept her retaking the test – again, and again, and again – until she passed.
“It’s made me really realize that if I can put my mind to something to do — and I doubt myself a lot — but with this process, I felt like I had to do it,” Ross said. I really see that I could push myself to do whatever. It’s great.”
After finishing the program, students can participate in a yearly graduation ceremony. Lewis said it’s amazing to see students who went through – maybe a single parent or a person who is homeless – so much walk across the stage.
“Now, they can make a living for themselves,” Lewis said. “So, it’s very important to me, and personal because I can see what we’re doing. We’re giving back and we’re changing lives.”
Ross said she pushed her son to graduate high school because she didn’t want him to feel the lack of security and challenges she’s felt at times.
“(The program) worked for me. I definitely recommend it to anybody that is in the same situation that I’ve been in,” Ross said.
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect the number of people the adult education program serves.
Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.