IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Employee GED program sees early success; ready for more participants
CU-Boulder now offers an on-campus, free-of-charge bilingual program that provides employees an opportunity to earn the equivalent of a high school diploma. The program prepares students to take the official General Education Diploma (GED) test in mathematics, science, reading, writing and social studies.
“We really want to get the word out about the GED program so that as many employees as possible will take advantage of this opportunity,” said Executive Director of the BUENO Center Leonard Baca.
Francisco Giles, program director and instructor, explained how the program got started: “The BUENO Center already operates a High School Equivalency Program for migrant and seasonal farm workers in Colorado, funded by the Office of Migrant Education in Washington, D.C. Omaira Bankston (of Employee & Organizational Development) came to us to see if we would be interested in setting up a GED program,” he said.
The program began spring semester of 2008. Thus far, seven students have passed the official tests and have received their GEDs and six more students are continuing.
GED instructors are required to have a bachelor’s degree in education. Giles has a master’s degree in bilingual education as does his co-instructor, Kathryn Bachtel.
Classes to teach mastery of concepts in all five content areas are offered Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the ARC building at 3100 Marine Street. Workbooks are provided in both English and Spanish. GED tests, administered by Front Range Community College, are offered once a month at the ARC building. In Colorado the test is offered in both English and Spanish.
Housing and Dining Services employee Ernesto Piñon studied under Giles and Bachtel and received his GED certificate in March. “It was fun, but challenging,” he said, explaining the course is difficult for those whose first language is not English. The secret, as successful students everywhere learn, is to complete all the assignments. “You have to do the work,” he said. Piñon would definitely recommend the classes to others. “Take it,” he said. “You can learn a lot of things.”
“The program was worthwhile, fun and a little difficult but not a big deal,” said fellow graduate Jose Navas Valle. “I encourage my coworkers to get on the program to feel better and make their families proud.”
Giles said signing up for the GED course is a big step. “It is difficult. Some students work evenings, some have family responsibilities and several of the students are also taking ESL classes. They’re busy,” he said.
Giles encourages those who are interested in pursuing a GED for themselves, a co-worker or employee to contact him. “We want to continue the program beyond this academic year,” he said, “but we need to get students. It would be nice to have 15 or 20 students so that we could fill two classrooms; currently there are only enough students for one classroom. We especially want to get the word out to new employees.”
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