NEO celebrates 10-year anniversary of alternative education success stories, including me, a ‘high school dropout’


As “Pomp and Circumstance” played in the track record, my classmate Mike Davis proudly opened his large faculty diploma just prolonged ample for me to see its official seal and formal signatures.

When I opened mine, the traditional graduation march audio stopped taking part in. Or so it seemed. My diploma folder was vacant inside. Blank. No formal seal. No official signatures. Nothing. My coronary heart sunk. My thoughts raced.

This was the minute — on stage in entrance of hundreds of viewers users at our graduation ceremony — that I discovered I did not graduate from Wirt High School in Gary. As a teenager, I was more interested in earning a residing while employed at my family’s meals small business than my significant college requirements to graduate. I ended up a person credit history brief. My mistake 100%. No excuses.

It took me 10 a long time right before I eventually pursued an alternate instructional plan, but only soon after receiving married, following obtaining two youngsters, and right after I received exhausted of feeling like a “high university dropout.”

In 1990, I enrolled at the Portage Grownup Learning Middle to receive a Normal Equivalency Diploma, or GED, permitting me to later enroll at a community campus of Purdue College. There, I wrote my to start with column for the school’s newspaper, about the suicide of Nirvana front person Kurt Cobain. I’ve been writing columns ever given that.

I have by no means forgotten the essential function in my job of that grownup understanding method, operated given that 2011 by Neighbors’ Instructional Alternatives, an corporation formed with a workforce of dedicated lecturers, staff, and visionaries. That year, Portage Township Colleges announced it was ending its comprehensive adult schooling program that experienced served Northwest Indiana for virtually a fifty percent century. NEO took in excess of the system and its screening center, applied for a constitution from Ball Condition College to run New Vistas Significant Faculty, and secured agreements from regional faculty superintendents for a changeover-calendar year credit recovery plan.

“At the group input discussion board that is obligatory for pending constitution schools, the Ball Point out delegation was astounded by the unanimous show of guidance from hundreds of community leaders, mother and father, and students,” recalled Rebecca Reiner, NEO’s government director.

More than the following 4 several years, around 800 superior university students and grown ups from throughout this region attended lessons at NEO to gain their substantial school diploma or GED, to find out English, or to put together for their U.S. citizenship test, or for faculty, or for a better task.

In 2015, NEO was educated that it desired to move out of its historic building on Central Avenue, the exact same creating I frequented many situations to gain my GED below the tutelage of a sweet girl named Mary Russell. Afterwards that year, the NEO board of directors signed an settlement to invest in a 70,000-sq.-toes former bowling heart on U.S. 6.

“The endeavor was definitely miraculous,” Reiner stated.

The venture arrived in $100,000 under funds, prompting 1 pupil to exclaim, “I guess we do subject.”

Indeed, NEO issues. Substitute academic programming issues. Second likelihood matter.

My next opportunity led to an unexpected vocation 10 a long time after my higher college knowledge, illustrating NEO’s concept of “meeting pupils wherever they are on their schooling journey.”

NEO has since played an instrumental function in empowering approximately 8,000 grown ups and large college college students with the capabilities, qualifications, and frame of mind they need to have to obtain their personalized education aims, ensuing in far more than 2,500 graduates.

“NEO has come a very long way due to the fact its days as Portage Grownup Education and learning, the two with regard to the services and the achievement tales,” Reiner reported.

NEO’s latest enrollment is 185 New Vistas Superior Faculty college students, 175 grownup education and learning learners, and 55 people understanding English as a second language. Courses are out there in particular person and on line, working day and evening, with enrollment now open for slide superior faculty lessons and ongoing adult ed lessons.

Post Tribune

Submit Tribune


Information updates from Northwest Indiana shipped every Monday and Wednesday

On Thursday, NEO celebrated its 10-calendar year anniversary (delayed just one calendar year by the pandemic) with excursions of its significant constructing and growing applications. School officials made available a glimpse of their vision for the next 10 a long time with designs for an onsite preschool program open up to its pupils and the community.

Also, a peek into a massive spot called the “cavern,” a 10,000-square-ft place devoted to additional education area for learners and the community for in-desire work. And an outdoor region dubbed NEO’s “Back 20″ to be applied as an outside studying place.

This is extremely remarkable for a not-for-gain corporation that is dependent on volunteer efforts and a commitment to providing students, together with me, a next chance.

I’ve hardly ever possessed a large college diploma. But I’ve preserved my wrinkled GED certification, which I have stored in a safe and sound just after all these several years. I worth it like a bar of gold mainly because it was my only currency for a prospective occupation, yrs right before I went on to compose 1000’s of newspaper tales and columns.

A NEO board member questioned me to share my achievements tale at the organization’s anniversary event. Alternatively, I produced a video clip of my particular testimonial and general public endorsement. While recording it, I imagined listening to “Pomp and Circumstance” engage in in the background.

[email protected]


Resource url