Rhea County Adult Education surpasses goal with 55 Grads

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Rhea County Adult Education Graduating Class of 2017. (DeanWilson/RheaReview)

TCAT Athens Adult Education graduation ceremony for Rhea County students was held Friday, May 5th at the RCHS auditorium. Along with guest performer, Wade Sims, guest speaker Senator Ken Yager, Adult Education District Coordinator, Leslie Travis and many AE teachers and staff, 28 students attended the ceremony out of the 55 students who have received a high school equivalency diploma since July 1, 2016.

“It’s a life-changing experience.  This will change their lives,” insists Adult Education District Coordinator, Leslie Travis.  “An adult that has at least a high school equivalency diploma makes over 10k a year more than those who don’t.”

Senator Ken Yager says he wouldn’t miss it.

“I’m honored to be here tonight to join with Rhea County in celebrating the achievement of the men and women receiving their high school diploma.  It’s a step in the right direction for them and the community,” stated Yager.

The annual goal of diplomas for Rhea County is set by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development Adult Education division is set at 53 per fiscal year. Rhea County has once again surpassed that annual goal for the third year in a row. The fiscal year ends June 30, 2017, which means the goal may far surpass the 104% it already has accomplished.

Last fiscal year there were 75 diplomas earned. “It is very possible that we will at least reach that same amount this year,” says Leslie Travis who’s area of operations has increased dramatically.

In the past, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Athens has held the grant for this program that included Rhea, Meigs, and McMinn Counties, however, since July 1, 2016, the TCAT Athens has won the grant to cover 10 counties in Southeast TN, including, Rhea, Meigs, McMinn, Bradley, Polk, Hamilton, Marion, Grundy, Sequatchie, and Bledsoe Counties. “There have been a few growing pains,” says Travis, “however; every new county that we took on has already improved their number of diplomas earned the previous year.”

There are six main offices, two in Hamilton, one in Bradley, Athens, Rhea, and Sequatchie counties and we have classes in 23 locations. Classes are offered day and evening in order to be accessible to those who work days or evenings. This program is completely FREE to all adults ages 18 and older who do not have a high school diploma.

“One thing I would like to educate the public about is the fact that you cannot earn a GED. That’s an acronym for General Equivalency Development, not Diploma. GED is a means by which to earn a high school equivalency diploma, or HSE,” insists Travis

The State of Tennessee no longer offers that test, but does offer the HiSET test and the results of passing the HiSET are the same, you earn a high school equivalency diploma recognized by the state.

This diploma will get you the same thing a regular high school diploma will get for you; even better is the fact that employers should know that there is no guessing when it comes to knowing if an adult has the college and career readiness skills necessary to succeed in the workplace or post-secondary education setting.

“If someone has their HSE diploma, they passed a rigorous test to prove their skills. You can’t buy this diploma. You can’t just show up for classes and get this diploma. You have to prove your skills by passing the HiSET test to earn it! Our instructors are highly trained in teaching the college and career readiness skills it takes to pass this test and our students are successful because of that,” says Travis.

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