More Than Just a GED

GED You are the Star

With the recent expansion of the HopeWorks GED program, I’ve been asked to also take on an expanded role within the HopeWorks organization. The largest portion of my job, at least in terms of hours, remains teaching GED classes. Because of the generosity of the Holmes Road Church of Christ in partnering with us, our new GED classrooms in Whitehaven are starting to be filled at all times of the day from Monday through Friday.

I love teaching my students, but I like encouraging them to succeed even more. On the back wall of my classroom, I’ve created a “Wall of Dreams” where I invite my students and any visitors to write their dream on a note card. My dream is that I can cover that wall many times over as our students achieve their goals. Our students face many obstacles in life and getting a GED is hard work, especially if you have a job, a family, transportation struggles, tenuous housing, mounting bills, or have not been in school for a long time. Many students have a tendency to focus on the immediacy of these struggles. While that is understandable, I want my students to recognize that unless their goals and dreams are their focus, unless these are more important to them than the obstacles immediately in front of them, they are not likely to overcome those obstacles and achieve their goals. I spend lots of time praying for my students to have the stamina and strength to persevere through life (and my teaching!)

I tend to boil down the HopeWorks ideal into two components. Primarily, HopeWorks wants to help people find, keep, or improve their employment situation. In order to reach this primary goal, HopeWorks also recognizes the need to serve individuals holistically. The GED or High School Equivalency Diploma is an important factor in employability, but it is not the only factor.

This is where the other parts of my job with HopeWorks begin. Because the GED program is a natural fit with the primary goal of HopeWorks, we want to make sure that our students also have opportunities to grow and learn in other essential ways, too. Our GED instructors are a great group of caring, Christlike people. The time we spend with our students allows us to see how hard they work and to see their struggles beyond the classroom. Unfortunately, our teaching time is so tightly packed that we struggle to focus on more than academics. I have the job of filling in this gap. You can think of me as the GED “chaplain” for both students and staff. I’m here to support our teachers and our students through a variety of spiritual care and growth opportunities. I also coordinate the efforts made in partnership between HopeWorks and the Holmes Road congregation; I hope to involve other congregations in the near future.

Finally, one other aspect of my job involves bridging the GED program and the PCD program. I help the communication process between these two sides of a great organization. I help make sure we all recognize we are part of a team operating under the same organizational vision. I help students make the transition between the two programs. The GED program can sometimes serve as a “feeder” for the PCD program, and the PCD program has students who need their High School Equivalency Diploma. We don’t want anyone slipping through the cracks!
My goals for the future include involving more of our volunteers with the GED program, having a regular schedule of spiritual care opportunities for our students, and expanding non-academic classes, instruction, and services to more of our GED students. I invite you to join me in praying for our current and future students, that we can be a help to them and that they can achieve their goals both academically and in life. If you have any questions about the GED program or my role at HopeWorks, I’d love to talk to you about it!

Eric Hallett