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Guest Blogger: Jane W. – Youth Caseworker

I am sitting at my desk on a Monday morning, and thinking back over the past couple of weeks. I realize that we have been exceptionally busy.  A new class of GED students, a new cohort of the Culinary Leadership Academy (CLA), and a new paid externship for one student at the Community Media Center.  Starting always requires extra effort: enrollment paperwork needs to be filled out, documents need to be copied, schedules outlined, and relationships built. So starting all of them means we were juggling a lot more balls than normal.

Once a month, Steepletown welcomes new GED students. We have what is considered continuous enrollment, which is unique in the GED world; however, it offers students the chance to re-start when they are ready and when they need to.  Everyone coming to Steepletown’s GED Program has met some kind of road block in regards to their education: traditional or alternative high schools haven’t worked; family or personal crises have blown their worlds apart; culture or language add a layer of difficulty their capability to learn; a family’s lack of emotional or mental resources let them down; and the types of coping strategies chosen by young adults have a cause and effect that is unforeseen by them.  Regardless of why and how they have arrived at this roadblock, they need a re-start. They deserve a re-start.  Most likely they will need several re-starts, which is the beauty of continuous enrollment.  They have the opportunity to re-start without having to wait, because waiting is just one more roadblock.

At least three times a year, a new CLA cohort forms.  Whenever a student who has met program and educational goals and shows a spark of interest in something – anything – that could become a career, we work to set up externships.  Why? Because for young adults, a road block in their education means a road block to a job or a career, which is road block to the rest of their lives.  So when young adults are studying for their GED, we want to hook them into career exploration and job training.  That is why Steepletown keeps building partnerships to provide sector specific training (see SECTOR SPECIFIC TRAININGS blog). It is also why Steepletown provides opportunities such as the Elevating Voices workshop (see ELEVATING VOICES blog).  We want to preempt another roadblock.

So, I guess I’m hoping for more busy weeks.  So, check back here to keep updated on what is happening.  Maybe follow our tweets, or come to the Five Star Fish Fry and become a partner in this work!