13 Honors Adult Learners
familiar paradigm—graduate college, get a job, retire and move
to Florida—played no role in the recent ceremony held at Channel
Thirteen/WNET headquarters on West 33rd Street. All the graduates
at this Student Recognition Day were adults, either foreign students
learning English or Americans who had been previously been prevented
from earning their GED (high school equivalency) and were finally
achieving that goal, thanks to a joint program of WNET and the
Board of Education (BOE).
The program “has no upper limit in terms of age,” said Richard
Organisciak, Superintendent of Alternative, Adult and Continuing
Education, addressing the graduates and their families. It was
not an empty boast; Brook Palmer, one of the graduates, was born
in 1919. When her father lost his job during the Depression, she
was sent to work in another household, forgoing her hopes of an
education. At the graduation, she tearfully called Judy Fresco,
who tutored her for the GED exam over the telephone, “the most
beautiful person in the world.”
Palmer benefited from WNET’s GED on TV series that is broadcast
regularly both in English and Spanish. Another WNET series for
adult education is Learn to Read, broadcast five times weekly.
The BOE determines the curricula, and teachers can use WNET media
in a classroom setting or as the basis for tutorials.
Students make use of these programs for a multitude of reasons.
John Anatole, a recovering alcoholic, went to school in jail and
took the GED test as part of an effort to reform himself. Rudy
Metula emigrated from Guadeloupe five years ago and expects to
get a GED by December. He plans to eventually run his own business.
Susan Winfield, has been raising an autistic daughter while attending
GED preparation classes and holding a secretarial job. She hopes
to be more competitive in the job market after earning her certificate.
Efren Remingio, who dropped out of eleventh grade, earned his
GED after only four months of working with a tutor and wants to
study medicine and boxing in college.
Whatever their goals and whatever hardships they overcame in the
journey to this ceremony, the students say they have obtained
a valuable life experience. “Look forward to thinking about it
in terms of time saved rather than time spent,” advised Ann Mauze,
Deputy Director of Educational Resources Center at WNET.
Berrin Sozer, an ESL student, agrees that her time has not been
wasted. She gave up a successful career in Turkey, with a graduate
degree in journalism and public relations in order to come to
New York to be with the man she loved. “I had everything in life,
except for love,” she explained. She considers this graduation,
occurring one day after her wedding, far more exciting than her
1984 University graduation.
For her, as for so many other students, it symbolizes a new life.
Mittelman is a third year student at Columbia University and an
intern at Education Update.
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
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