February 21, 2011
Education starts out in the community.
Kathy Garrou is an outreach specialist at the Charlottesville Adult Learning Center. Her goal is to locate and register folks who want or need a GED.
“I distribute fliers, talk one-on-one with people, I make phone calls, visit businesses and talk to employers. You name it, I do everything to get the word out,” said Garrou.
Garrou and Carol Coffee work together to ensure adults in Charlottesville have access to the educational courses they need. From GED prep to family literacy, the tandem provides educational opportunities that they say will help students in the future.
“You have to have [a GED] get a decent job so that you can have a sustainable living. You have to have it to become an engaged community member or citizen in the community to be able to understand what's going on and participate. And you have to have it to be a good parent,” said Carol Coffee, a regional specialist at the learning center.
Kim Pennock knows that. She had a baby and dropped out of high school at the age of 16. Garrou found her working at a local coffee shop and encouraged her to take the GED test.
“Kathy has been wonderful. She's been kind of like a second mother. She's been [saying] you can do this Kimberly. Let's do this. She's been right there with me the whole time,” said Pennock.
With Garrou's and Coffee's help, Pennock graduated last March. She's now enrolled at Piedmont Virginia Community College.
“It's just a powerful feeling being able to play some small part in that success,” said Coffee.
“Whenever they walk across the stage and I know that they have a credential that will help them to get a better job and/or help them to go on to post secondary education, it really makes you feel good,” added Garrou.
While Garrou and Coffee have helped many graduate, they know their work is not done. For now, they'll keep encouraging students and stepping out into the community to help as many people as they can.
If you would like more information about the Charlottesville Adult Learning Center or the GED call (434)245-2817 or visit the website.