07/09/12 Patty Hatter knew her newly acquired job as a driver for Culver Academies was going to be awesome. But her dream job could have come to and end after the first week if her employers had not been understanding.

Hatter said she received a call from the school saying their policies require that all employees hold a high school or equivalent diploma. Hatter said, “They are very careful about checking all information on an application, but somehow the fact that I never graduated was missed until they requested information from the high school I attended.”

Hatter had left Lacrosse High School after her junior year, married and raised three children. She had stayed home until her kids were old enough to stay by themselves before going to work outside the home. Among those was her nine-year employment with at People’s Drug Store. She was eventually laid off when the economy turned; making the job at Culver Academies even more vital.

In order to keep her job, she had to start working on her GED certification-no easy task for a 57-year old wife, mother, grandmother of 11 and even a great grandmother of one. Hatter said she first looked into taking courses online, but found in checking with the Better Business Bureau that not all of the internet sites could be trusted.

Fortunately, she ran into the Director of the local Adult Basic Education, Deb Sherwood. Hatter and Sherwood had once worked together at Peoples Drug Store. Sherwood was able to encourage Hatter enough to get her to take placement tests. Hatter said, “You talk about scared. I was petrified.”

  Although some of the course work was easy, math became her biggest challenge. She said, “My instructor Bill McIntire can teach anyone from 15 to 80.He wouldn’t give up one anyone.” She also bonded with a fellow student who needed Hatter’s help in essays, but could, in return, give her the needed boost in math.

She said, “Sometimes I would barely get back to Culver in time to get to class. But, my husband of 40 years was very supportive and would be at the end of our driveway in Burr Oak to give me my books.”

After several months of attending classes two nights a week, her hard work paid off and she passed the GED test. She said, “I knew I had to do it.”

Hatter said “This is the best job I’ve ever had. The students are interesting and I’ve learned so much about other cultures.”

Carol Anders Correspondent