Springfield City Schools offer non-traditional graduation options

Whether you are 17, 49 or anywhere in between – earning a high school diploma is worthy of celebration.

In addition to the 427 Springfield City School District students who walked across the stage this spring, the Class of 2022 also boasts a dozen graduates from the school district’s GED and Adult Diploma programs. For some, it had been years since they had last been in a classroom.

Samantha Massie, now 30, says her confidence was historically low going through school. She couldn’t stay focused or ask the right questions. As a result, she couldn’t pass exams like the Ohio Graduation Test and ended up dropping out.

It wasn’t until she became a mom that she decided to put her education first.

“I just wanted to better my life for me and my daughter,” Massie says. “I want her to go farther (than me) and know that I did it.”

She began the GED Program through the school district’s Adult Education Department, working through the pandemic, both at home and in classes taught by three SCSD instructors, who she credits with helping her to build self-esteem and stay motivated.

“I always tell them, ‘The big thing is consistency,’” says SCSD Adult Education and GED Coordinator, Kelly Wiggins.

Wiggins says she’s noted a lack of confidence is one of the biggest hurdles that her students face, in addition to external factors like transportation, child care or work schedules.

“A big part of what we do is cheerleading: ‘You can do this!,’” she says.

The popularity of the GED test is rising in Ohio, according to research conducted for Gedeno.com, which ranks the state in the top three for Google searches related to the program.

Similar statistics from Gedeno.com cite 11 percent of the United States working age population does not have a high school credential, which equates to a loss of $10,000 in additional income, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The SCSD begins the GED process by accessing students’ basic skills. From there, the district’s Adult Education Department creates and tailors a program that will be the most successful for each student.

The SCSD offers an open community classroom site at the School of Innovation with daytime and evening hours to help GED students complete their coursework – sometimes students will come in up to four times a week. The GED Program also offers a distance learning component and an option for students to enroll their children in a family literacy program at no cost.

While the readjustment to classroom learning was difficult at times, Massie says it was well worth it. She completed her GED this spring and is looking forward to obtaining a job that will provide her and her daughter with financial stability.

While the GED is geared toward those who need to recover significant credits, the Adult Diploma Program, offered through the Ohio Department of Education, is an option for those who may only need a few credits to achieve a high school equivalency.

Anna Owens, now age 24, dropped out of school at age 15. She tried to go back to school in the years that followed but wasn’t successful until she found the Adult Diploma Program.

In just a few short months, Owens completed her credit requirements.

Coming full circle from nearly 10 years ago, Owens received a Springfield High School diploma upon completion of the program. She now plans to continue on to attend Clark State College to attain her real estate license.

“If I would’ve never found this program, I probably wouldn’t have finished,” she says. “I’m so proud of my diploma. I mention it every time I can.”

The Adult Diploma Program is offered from various providers around the state. When students complete the program, they can receive a diploma and in some cases, an industry credential, too, from their high school of residency.

A fellow Adult Diploma graduate, Mae Battson, age 49, actually found herself enjoying her classwork despite 30 years passing from the last time she was in school.

“Math is my kryptonite. I was really kind of panicking about that. I didn’t have much confidence. That kind of gets taken away (when you drop out) – but it turns out that I actually aced the math,” she says. “I just want everybody to be able to have that hope that they can do it. They just have to be willing to put in the work and want it badly enough.”

All GED and Adult Diploma graduates were honored in a special ceremony held by the SCSD in May to mark their accomplishments. It was the first type of celebration in recent history to honor these students, but organizers are already planning to make it a yearly tradition in order to commemorate all types of graduates.

“It doesn’t matter how long someone has been out of a classroom – anyone can and should pursue these opportunities. The options are here, the resources are here, and our staff is here to guide students in the right direction,” says SCSD Coordinator of Assessment, Accountability & Research Crystal Aker. “For every one of these diplomas, that’s another Springfield community member that we are empowering to take control of their future and become successful. We congratulate all of them for putting in the work to achieve this goal.”

Anyone interested in pursuing the GED or Adult Diploma Programs should contact the SCSD Adult Education Office at 937-505-4354.