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Resident first to complete GED after test changes

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By Calen McKinney

 

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She had never worked an algebra problem until a few months ago, but she now knows how to solve for X.

Home schooled since she was a child, Lidda Hood, 24, wasn't ever expected to work a public job. But after wanting to have a career and better future, Hood has completed a GED and will soon start college to make those goals come true.

Hood is the first Taylor County resident to complete the recently revamped GED, which is more difficult than the previous test.

Spending time and going to classes at the Taylor County Adult Learning Center, Hood received help along the way to make her goal a reality.

The learning center provides free help to residents working toward completing their GEDs, in addition to administering tests that many local businesses require as tools to assess potential employees' skills.

Program Director Annette Jefferson said the GED test changed in January, the first time since 2002. The change was made to account for modern-day college and career standards.

But even though the GED exam is now more difficult, Jefferson said, sometimes all people need is encouragement to help them know they can pass. And some people didn't finish high school for a number of reasons, and need help remembering what they learned in school.

"We're here to fill that gap," Jefferson said.

Hood, 24, first came to the center to learn about how she can work to close that gap in her life. She moved to Campbellsville about five and a half years ago to attend church at Elk Horn Tabernacle. She has worked several jobs while here, some at local hotels, a factory and the hospital.

Hood said she and her four sisters studied at home as they grew up in Louisiana. Her education spanned through seventh-grade studies and her parents expected her to stay at home and work.

But Hood said she felt her life wouldn't amount to anything if she didn't focus on finishing her GED. Without a diploma, searching for a job she could make a career was hard, she said.

"I couldn't get a good one unless I had my GED," she said.

Hood said her parents have since accepted that she wants to work - and ultimately wants to be a nurse or midwife.

"They are proud of me, now," she said. "I guess they never expected me to work."

After learning about the center, Hood started working toward her goals in January with classes and one-on-one help.

"I would come in when I would get stuck on something," she said.

"Annette and her staff have just been amazing. I couldn't have ever done it without them. They're always ready to help you anytime you need it."

And Hood said her husband, Paul, has been very supportive of her taking off from work to completely focus on her goals.

"He took care of me so it was possible," she said.

In all, Jefferson said Hood spent more than 200 hours preparing for the test. She had last studied when she was 16.

"So I had forgotten a whole lot," she said.

The new GED exam tests students' skills in four areas - math reasoning, science, social studies and reasoning through reading and language arts.

Hood said she never thought she would finish her GED, because of the time it took to complete and the difficulty of the test.

"I have always planned to, but I always thought it would personally never come true because it seemed too unreal. I'm really excited."

She said completing her GED wouldn't have been possible without help from those at the center. And Jefferson said Hood put in the time and effort to make her dream of getting a GED a reality.

"But the main thing is, Lidda worked hard. She was focused and it paid off."

Having a GED, Jefferson said, shows employers that a potential employee is a good reader, knows how to think and is a hard worker.

"It means that person has tenacity and is willing to spend the time," she said.

Hood said her GED will improve her life, and she recommends anyone considering trying to complete theirs to do it.

"I can get a better job. I can start my career," she said. "I feel better about myself."

Hood said she sometimes got discouraged, thinking she wouldn't be able to finish her GED studies.

"But I just had to keep telling myself if I didn't keep my mind on it, I wouldn't ever become anything."

Hood will start college classes at Campbellsville University in August. She said she hopes to work with children or the elderly.

"I just want to be a good nurse," she said. "There's a need for good ones."

Jefferson said she believes Hood will achieve her goal.

"I think Lidda will be a success in whatever she chooses to do," she said. "She's decided on something and I think she's going to do it."

Jefferson said the new GED test is computer-based, but isn't available online.

"You have to be comfortable with technology to take this test," she said. "You have to know your stuff to pass your test."

And the exam must be administered at an official testing site, such as Campbellsville University's Technology Training Center.

Jefferson said the center offers many different ways for people to learn, from online programs to traditional textbooks and one-on-one tutoring.

"Because everyone's different," Jefferson said. "That's how we try to address the needs of all the students, whatever their needs are."

She said people often call the center and asked about completing the GEDs. Many people completed their GEDs before January, when the test became more difficult.

"But it's picking up again," Jefferson said.

From last July to December, 55 people completed their GEDs at the center.

The center was recently ranked sixth in Kentucky out of the 120 adult learning centers in terms of enrollment, academic gain and the number of people to complete their GEDs.

So far this year, Jefferson said, more than 500 people have come to the center for help. And 20 to 25 people are currently working on their GEDS, she said.

The adult learning center is located at 601 David St. For more information, call (270) 465-7736.