From:                                         Cindy Brown []

Sent:                                           Friday, May 14, 2010 11:08 AM


Subject:                                     Adult education press release



Fayette County Community Action Agency, Inc.

N E W S   R E L E A S E

(724) 437-6050



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:          Contact: Cindy Ekas-Brown

April 16, 2010                                  PR/Outreach Specialist                                                                                724-437-6050, extension 4276


FCCAA offers adult education classes to high school dropouts, prison inmates


Connellsville, PA – High school dropouts, including prison inmates and women suffering from substance abuse problems, have a chance to turn their lives around by enrolling in classes offered by Fayette County Community Action Agency, Inc. (FCCAA).

The agency’s Education Center in Connellsville, which has operated for the past 27 years, focuses on education goals and offers people an opportunity to improve their lives, according to Sue Wagner, FCCAA’s education project manager and a certified teacher.

“Our program offers assistance for people to earn the Commonwealth Secondary School Diploma and then go on to post-secondary education or employment,” Wagner said. “The program helps students to improve reading and math skills and to pass the Test of General Education Development, or what is commonly referred to as GED tests.”

Day classes meet from 9 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday at the Greater Connellsville Community Center, 201 E. Fairview Ave., Connellsville. Night classes take place from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Day classes are offered in Uniontown at FCCAA’s Family Service Center, 108 N. Beeson Ave., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

Wagner said the agency also offers two classes at the Fayette County Jail and one class at Another Way, a half-way house in Uniontown for women suffering from substance abuse problems.

“We assist the women to get them ready to re-enter the community and employment,” Wagner said. “We also help them with referrals to housing, WIC (Women, Infants and Children), Food Stamps and resources for their babies. It started as a way to provide GED classes for the women and has grown.”

Wagner said GED classes are very important because of the number of high school dropouts in Fayette County.

According to data compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, a total of 226 students dropped out of the six school districts in Fayette County in the 2007-08 school year – the last year that statistics are available.

“We have a dropout problem in the Fayette County school districts, and that’s why our GED program is so important,” Wagner said.

Wagner said the education classes are offered free to the public.

“We have student orientation, and we prepare them for GED testing,” Wagner said. “We have 14 to 17 students in each class, and we expect them to take it seriously. An assessment of skills identifies each student’s strengths and weaknesses and helps the teacher determine what kind of instruction is needed.”

Students enrolled in the GED program need to be at the eighth-grade level or higher, according to Wagner.

“We offer a literacy group from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday to prepare students who are below the eighth-grade level,” she said.

At the education center, Wagner said teachers check to see if the students are weak in certain areas of math, reading and writing.

“We approach the learning process different from the high schools,” she said. “We try to identify specific learning styles, and we match our teaching strategy to each of the learners as needed. Each of FCCAA’s certified teachers is trained to work with a diverse, multi-level classroom and each works to promote active learning where the students can see they are making progress. If they don’t see immediate, positive outcomes, they won’t come back.”

Wagner said the program can accept students who are 17 years of age and older.

“I’m dealing with students who are 18 years of age and older. The average range of the students is in their mid-20s. We have one woman who is in her 60s and a few others in their 40s.”

Sometimes, young people don’t realize how important education is until they reach their mid-20s, Wagner said.

“After students drop out of high school, they struggle to try to make it on their own,” she said. “When they realize that they can’t get jobs because they don’t have a high school education, that’s when they try to do something about it.”

After students pass the GED tests, Wagner said teachers try to get them interested in going to a post-secondary school.

“Our graduates go on to the Laurel Business Institute, Pennsylvania Institute of Health and Technology, Penn State Fayette, Westmoreland County Community College (WCCC), California University of Pennsylvania and Pitt at Greensburg,” she said.

Wagner said the program offers a pretty good success rate. According to Pennsylvania Department of Education statistics, 80 percent of students with a goal to pass the GED tests will be successful. About 50 to 60 students a year obtain a GED diploma through the program.

“We’re assisting people to move on with their lives,” she said.

For more information about the program or to enroll in GED classes, call 724-626-1070.