10/04/12 Tuesday night the Plymouth School Board heard an encouraging report during their monthly meeting from Deb Sherwood, Director of Plymouth Adult Basic Education. Sherwood said the program had an enrollment of 173 students during the 2011-2012 school year. According to Sherwood, 158 of the total were enrolled in GED (General Education Development) classes and 15 were taking classes for ESL (English as a Second Language).

To explain how far the students had progressed, Sherwood said 31 percent tested into the program at 6th grade level and another 33 percent were below the 9th grade level.

Some 58 students were able to obtain their GED certification.

Sherwood said, “We outgrew the Lincoln Junior High auditorium for the GED graduation. There was standing room only.”

As they look forward to the 2012-2013 school year, Sherwood said they hope to expand their outreach to other Marshall County communities, customize student schedules to include classroom and technology options, and earn additional funding through the reimbursement schedule.

Partnerships with other local entities are also in the future plans. Sherwood said they hope to partnership with the Plymouth Pubic Library to refer low-level learners to trained tutors. At this time, a grant application through the Marshall County Community Foundation is pending.

With the closing of Hearts and Hands, ENL (English as a New Language) classes have become more needed. According to Sherwood, an ENL Civic Grant could mean the addition of English language classes, work readiness, GED skills, and Dream Act awareness. Classes are being held in the evenings at St. Michael’s School.

If the Adult Education program receives an Innovation Grant, they could begin partnering with Ancilla College. Certified training is also on the rise with CNC classes being put in place with the Plymouth Community Schools, auto technology at the SCILL Center, welding classes at the SCILL Center, and IC3 through the South Bend Adult Education.

Sherwood said they are working on removing obstacles for students by offering online resources and Distance Learning options.

Sherwood explained that they have gain retension of enrollment by implementing a firm attendance policy and offering scholarship monies for GED test fees reimbursements.

Carol Anders Correspondent