‘I couldn’t wait to call my grandma’: Recent high school graduate Betty completes her diploma with the support of the Adult Training Network and TVLA
Betty’s high school education ended early and limited her employment opportunities due to some obstacles she had to overcome. However, with the help of TVLA and PACE, she turned her life around by getting her high school diploma.
At 15, Betty dropped out of junior high school frustrated by the curriculum. Her academic performance suffered as a result of “hanging out with the wrong crowd” whose perspectives were a little tainted when it came to school and studying.
She decided to go back, but when she returned to class, she was with people younger than her which was hard.
“Having to go back to school to repeat a grade with kids younger than me increased my anxiety,” says Betty. “I felt I was too old even though I was the right age, but I just couldn’t do it so I quit. I wanted to go back, but it just seemed too difficult.”
And although she asked for help, Betty says at the time, she felt she didn’t have the support or the resources to help her succeed.
At one point, she tried to homeschool herself, but that too became an everyday struggle to complete the work. She missed opportunities to connect with other students and to talk with peers and problem solve in groups.
Feeling frustrated and defeated, Betty abandoned the thought of finishing high school altogether.
Over the next few years, the born and bred Albertan wandered into adulthood with no clear goals. She travelled through Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba working multiple jobs cleaning hotel rooms and serving at restaurants, but desired a career and stability. Without a high school diploma, however, she found herself with limited employment options.
It was when she turned 19 and moved from Alberta to Ontario that Betty decided to make the brave decision to get her high school diploma for a chance at a better future. She reached out to the Adult Training Network.
The Adult Training Network at Peterborough Alternative Continuing Education (PACE) through the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board is an adult learning centre that helps individuals 19 years of age and older as they gain the credentials they need to access higher education and/or better jobs. Learners can access workplace skills, including apprenticeships, computer training and credits, math, reading and problem solving, as well as a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR).
Betty worked diligently toward her goal of completing her high school diploma. Although the first few months were hard, she began to make a major transformation. As she concentrated on her course load, Betty developed confidence—enough so that she went searching for a tutor to help her improve her math grade.
Betty reached out to Trent Valley Literacy Association (TVLA) for help.
Trent Valley Literacy Association (TVLA) is a Peterborough-based organization offering individualized tutoring and small group learning to adults who want to improve their reading, writing, math and computer skills. They also offer online training and workshops. Workshops include Customer Service, Point-of-Sale (POS) and Retail Math Skills, as well as Digital Literacy.
Making great use of TVLA’s one-to-one tutoring, Betty flourished academically and socially. TVLA’s tutoring support empowered Betty to upgrade her math and English and they also provided her with the learning resources necessary to succeed.
“When COVID hit, my tutor and I had to move our sessions online. The problem was I didn’t have a laptop so TVLA lent me a laptop for six months so I could continue my sessions and do my work. The staff are very friendly and were ready to help me in any way,” says Betty.
Betty says the support she received from the staff and volunteers at TVLA and the staff at PACE gave her the willpower to complete her studies. She found the process very accommodating and was pleased by how many resources were available.
“At PACE and TVLA, everyone kept me on track and motivated me to keep going and get the work done,” says Betty. “My confidence has completely changed. When I first started, I couldn’t go into TVLA or PACE without someone with me. As time passed, I became more social and grew more confident.”
Betty’s TVLA tutor, Jane Garant, says she’s impressed with how Betty showed up for each session and put in a huge amount of effort into her math and English courses during their time together.
“Seeing how well she was doing really increased Betty’s confidence and motivation to move forward with other courses. She steadily worked away at all the needed credits with a commitment I really admired,” Jane says. “I really appreciated how Betty shared with me some of her past experiences and insights with an incredible sense of humour. I’m so glad I got to see her personality shine through in her writing and I’m so grateful to have learned so much with her.”
Jane says for anyone considering taking an adult learning course, but is feeling hesitant should pay attention to their needs and look at what supports are available to help them succeed.
“Do you struggle with anxiety? If so, what would make learning less stressful? Maybe it’s working one-to-one in a quiet space, doing shorter or longer sessions, or being connected with other learners doing a similar course. Either way, I encourage you to really find out what you need and ask for it. Learning as an adult can be nerve-wracking, but it can also open up new pathways you hadn’t thought of before.”
A place like TVLA with 1:1 support for learners, Jane adds, is absolutely crucial in our communities.
“Not only does TVLA provide support in completing mandatory credits, but it also offers a chance for increased connection and care from kind professionals at a time in life when there are very few of those type of resources available.”
This past fall, 24-year-old Betty graduated from PACE and received her high school diploma!
“I cried when PACE called me to tell me I finished. I jumped up and down with excitement. I couldn’t wait to call my grandma in Alberta to tell her the good news. I’m the first of three blood siblings to graduate so that was a big moment,” says Betty.
She’s now focused, more so than ever before. “I want to go to culinary school to become a cook or get trained as a personal support worker,” she adds.
Betty states “the PACE and TVLA staff supported and encouraged me throughout this process. They didn’t treat me as a child, but as a grown adult who wants her education. They gave me the tools I needed in order to be successful, not only in school but in life.”
Adult Training Network at PACE and Trent Valley Literacy Association (TVLA) are both located in Peterborough, Ontario. Thanks to funding from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, Adult Training Network and TVLA can offer programs at no cost to eligible adults in Peterborough.
Further your education and improve your skills by working with their teams. Contact the Adult Training Network and Trent Valley Literacy Association for more information. You can also visit our Peterborough Programs page.