Letter, Opinion

You’re never too old to learn

Dear Editor,

Lisa earned her high school diploma at age 59 this past June. Born in Vermont, her education was interrupted due to an unplanned pregnancy. Lisa spent 20 years working as a nurse’s aide and raising her two children before being sidelined by a career-ending back injury.

“I was sitting at home. I knew I needed to do something,” Lisa said. “I decided to check out Vermont Adult Learning. It was hard at first. I was the oldest student in the classes. Today, I can read things in my mail. I can understand a bill, something my kids used to help me with.”

Sept. 19-26 is National Adult Education and Family Literacy week. Lisa’s story reminds us there are many talented and capable individuals among us who, for myriad reasons, lack a high school credential.

An estimated 42,000 Vermonters do not have a high school diploma or GED. These folks face more limited job opportunities and access to training programs or the ability to continue one’s studies at the college level; they are also the most likely to lose employment during an economic downturn. The Covid-19 pandemic reinforces the enhanced health vulnerabilities of folks of limited education and income.

Vermont Adult Learning, Central Vermont Adult Basic Education, Bennington Tutorial Center and Northeast Kingdom Adult Basic Education Services are here to serve Vermont residents, ages 16 and older.  We assist those seeking to earn a high school credential, learn English or prepare for a new job or continuing education. We’re also here for Vermonters who want to brush up on their reading, writing, math and computer skills. Our services are free. Learning is highly-individualized, tailored to students’ needs.

Lisa recognized that it’s never too late to learn.  Our passion to help students succeed drives our work. We are here to help, one aspiring student at a time. To find a program near you, visit: education.vermont.gov/student-learning/adult-education/local-services

Hal Cohen, executive director at Vermont Adult Learning

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