Janey House, Academic Counselor, Adult Education
Our students come to us with their own individual stories. They have their own struggles, fears of failure, challenges, goals, and personalities. They bring themselves to our GED program here at United Ministries, and they enrich our program with their enthusiasm, work ethic, and determination. Kaylee, who just completed her GED on November 30th, is such a great representative of our students who make our program all that it is. She overcame many very difficult challenges in her life, and her determination and success have inspired us all!
Kaylee is now 22. She grew up in Pickens. Her father used drugs and spent most of his time with his friends. She did well in school until the fourth grade when her father was arrested. She and her mother left and went to live with her grandparents for a week. She remembers writing a note to her father, saying “Please, Daddy. Give up the drugs. I want to live with you and Mama.” Her father was released, and her mother tried to work things out with him. In the 5th grade she and her mother had to leave again and returned to live with her grandparents. Her father’s drug use became worse after they left.
Sixth grade was a really hard experience for her. Her mother took her out of her school and enrolled her a private Christian school in Six Mile. She had to leave all of her friends and was very unhappy. Kaylee felt like she was being pulled by both sides of her family. She felt that she didn’t want to be around anyone and just wanted to be alone. Her grades dropped, and she became more and more unhappy.
She returned to her school in Pickens in 7th grade. She was happy to be back with her friends, but she began making bad choices when she was with them. She began thinking that nothing really mattered in her life. Her first fight was in eighth grade, and she was suspended. She didn’t like any of her classes or teachers and didn’t care about her suspension. Eventually she was put on a behavior contract.
Her mother soon remarried, and her little sister was born. She didn’t like her stepfather and rarely saw her father. Then she met Michael, and he became her “rock”. He was three years older than her, and her mother and grandparents disapproved of their relationship. She was rebellious and ran away with him, but her mother found her and took her back home. Since she had broken her behavior contract, she was required to go to a court hearing and was expelled from school. Her stepdad told her that she couldn’t come home, and she went back to live with her grandparents. She felt that everyone was against her.
She then found out that she was pregnant. She was fifteen. She lived with her grandparents until she was 17, and then they moved out. She encouraged Mike to get his GED, and he completed his GED through our program. When she was pregnant with her second child, she came to us and took a placement test but never came back. After her second child was born, she was in a very serious car wreck. It took her months to recover from her injuries, and she then began having problems with anxiety that continues to be a challenge in her life. After her third child was born, Mike soon lost his job and began having emotional problems because he couldn’t support the family. Kaylee and Mike are now working hard to better themselves and their relationship.
Kaylee’s strength and determination were still there for her, though, and she decided to come to us and get her GED. She said that she was “tired of being in the same spot for the last five years”. Yet, when she walked up our stairs to take the placement test again, she decided that she wouldn’t be coming back. She did, however, come back. She felt that our GED staff and volunteers really cared about her and gave her great support as she studied and passed her tests.
She passed her reading, social studies, and science parts of the GED quickly even though her anxiety issues made it difficult for her to stay calm for the tests. Passing her math test became the last challenge for her GED. She began working with Hamp Sherard, a math specialist in our program. Hamp is a retired math professor from Furman and now a volunteer with our program. He was there for Kaylee when she really needed his help and support. They worked three hours a day, three days a week for weeks. Kaylee found out that she had the ability to learn the math and succeed in passing the final math test. The GED passing score on each test is 145. Kaylee ‘s first math practice test score was 131; and with Hamp’s instruction and support, she passed her math test with a 154 and completing her GED. Kaylee is still celebrating and so are we!
Kaylee now wants to continue her education starting at Greenville Tech and then transferring to Upstate South Carolina. She wants to be a registered nurse and will be helping many people who need her help and support in their lives also. She says that she has learned in her life that “No matter how long you feel that you’re in the dark, there’s always the light. You have to stop feeling sorry for yourself and get up and go.” Kaylee now has the support of her family, and they are also very proud of her. What a great success Kaylee has become! She learned so much from all of her challenges, and here she is ready to become who she wants to be.