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Success Story

One of our most memorable students is Sue Doan. She is full of energy and personality, talkative, and frequently laughing. Sue faced a challenging road to achieve her high school equivalency that she didn’t expect, but she made a promise to herself and her family that she intended to keep. Even when she felt discouraged or unsure that she could overcome the obstacles in her path, Sue pushed forward. Her determination, humor, and positive attitude would see her through.

Looking back, Sue talks about how she would talk herself through those tough moments. “I made a promise to myself. I can do this. I did it. I’m proud of myself. I keep on looking at my diploma and saying, ‘I did it.’” She’s thankful she did, but the journey was quite the challenge.

Sue has been married for forty years and she now has five children and five grandchildren. But before that, she was a child who had difficulties in school. “I got bullied and made fun of because my mother would pick my clothes. They didn’t see me as another student in school. I had no choice. I had to wear my mother’s clothes.” Sue felt discouraged and disliked as a result and did not enjoy being at school. “I got mean too. I didn’t like bullies. I beat them up.” When Sue was a teenager she finally decided she’d had enough of school and dropped out. “I didn’t think it was important. I was a Miss Know-It-All teenager.”  Sue started looking for work in her teens and realized that most jobs did not require a high school diploma so she didn’t think completing her education was a big deal. “I could get any job. And I did.”

Over the years, Sue held a variety of positions. At age 16, she worked in a foundry, and she had also worked in a pickle factory. She has been a car hop and a custodian. Sue worked for 34 years without feeling a need for a high school diploma. She focused on her work and on keeping herself active, walking six miles a day. One day, the plant that she worked at closed down and moved out of the country, and suddenly she was unemployed when most workplaces were requiring a high school equivalency. A service she was connected with recommended that she attend classes with Learn More Center to prepare and earn her HSE.

Sue worked hard to study for her HSE. There were many frustrating moments, but she refused to give up because of the promise she made. “It was a challenging program. I didn’t know some of the stuff, like algebra and geometry.” She pushed on to develop study habits and even groups with students outside of class time. She was determined to succeed no matter how long it took and she felt a connection with fellow students, teachers, and tutors. “I think the people cared and they sit down with you and have patience with a woman like me.” She said she “spent a long time studying, trying to convince myself I can do this. I’m proud of it. It took a long time and I did it!” She said encouragement from others was an incredible motivating factor that she had never experienced and that her teachers and school counselor in the ‘70s “didn’t even try to talk me out of quitting.”

She was concerned at first, but is happy that she chose to obtain her HSE. “I didn’t know for sure I wanted to do that because of my age.” She was afraid that they might “look at me like I was an older person.” She had doubts. “At first, I said I don’t really need this.” But she worked on staying positive and seeing it through. “I promised my parents I would do this and my sister.” She even received encouragement from other students.

After starting, she realized she wasn’t alone in going back. David, one of her teachers, used a buzz word, “Engage,” to help her focus “because I get frustrated.” In the end Sue realized that she wasn’t alone in going back to further her education. “You’re never too old to go back to school.”

Sue put great effort into keeping her promise to her family and practiced both in and outside of class. She became a member of the National Adult Education Honor Society. After completing, she feels like she wants to encourage others to pursue their education as well. “I’ve got me a good job now. I don’t have to worry about getting hassled or turned down.”

Sue’s laughter and high energy in the classroom isn’t present like it used to be, but she comes to visit periodically to share successes and keep in touch with fellow students, teachers, and tutors that she connected with and to encourage others to keep pushing forward, no matter how challenging it seems, because it’s worth it.

When Fear is Knocking…

When Fear knocks, Hope goes to answer, and Faith is at the door.”

We all feel fear – that’s undeniable. But the level of fear we each go through is different and particular to every person and every situation. Sometimes fear is simply knocking on your door, giving you the opportunity to answer and send it away. But other times it’s whispering through the walls, making its presence known but refusing to be found. Or, maybe it’s stomping on the ceilings, causing the pounding in your head to match the pounding on the roof while always staying just out of reach. Regardless of where the fear is or what it’s doing, it’s there. So, what can you do?

Do you fight it? Do you send your dog to the door to scare it away? Do you drill nails in the wall to shut it up? Do you hit the ceiling with a broom to knock it off?

How do you get rid of fear?

Easy – you use Hope. Hope doesn’t care about rationality because Hope itself isn’t always rational.

Think of a time when you started something new. It was probably overwhelming and a little scary because you didn’t know what to expect and everything seemed to be filled with uncertainty. When you thought about the future, it might’ve been full of “I don’t know,” and “We’ll see.” But even in all that uncertainty, you tried. You kept going. Even though you may have been hesitant, and you had no idea what could happen, you went for it anyways. And ladies and gentlemen, that is the answer to defeating fear.

Faith is scary, but don’t let it disguise itself as something that it’s not. Send Hope to the door and watch as what you thought was Fear transforms itself into something positive – something scary but for all the right reasons: Faith.

Learn More June Newsletter

The Golden Rule

Growing up, it’s likely that you heard the phrase “treat others the way you want to be treated.” After all, it is the Golden Rule! Moms say it to their kids when they do something mean and teachers say it to their students when they are acting out. But how many times do we turn the phrase around and say it to ourselves? What about showing ourselves the same love, respect, and decency that we would show a friend, a family member, or even a stranger?

            When something goes wrong, sometimes the easiest thing to do is blame ourselves. We get caught up in a web of excuses and self-loathing, believing things only went wrong because of our own flaws. Words of discouragement such as “I’m so stupid!” or “I’m a failure” race through our minds so fast that we are rarely able to catch them until it’s too late and we’re already feeling worse. But it’s time for us to realize the importance of self-talk and to turn the thoughts in our head around!

            When a friend or someone we love is feeling sad, we are quick to tell them all the reasons things are okay and how we recognize the hard work they’re putting in and the good they are doing. So, why not do the same thing for ourselves?

            If you mess up, don’t forget how hard you were working up until that point. If you feel like you’re not doing enough, remember that being able to see what more can be done is the first step towards doing it! If at any point you feel unsatisfied with what is happening, think about what you would tell a friend – ask yourself what advice you would give to someone you love – and tell yourself that exact same thing. Don’t just treat others the way you want to be treated but treat yourself that same way too.

Steps To Well Being In Such Uncertain Times

     By now most of you have heard and seen the slogans such as, “We’re in This Together,” and “Alone Together” online and on television. However, some of us may feel very disconnected.  For those of us who suffer from depression, anxiety, and other struggles such as striving to stay in recovery from addiction, this kind of disconnection can be extremely difficult. 

      However, humans are amazing at taking something adverse and turning it into something positive. We at Learn More Center want to offer some suggestions of how to make this quarantine bearable.
The first step in all of this is to not let fear rule you. When I look back at things I feared in life, they usually did not happen, or, if they did, they were not as bad as I feared. Online news and headlines can create feelings of fear and hopelessness. In these secluded times, the internet can be a great way to reach out and stay in touch with others, but it can also be a marketplace of misinformation. This is a great time to use your critical thinking skills. Ask yourself who wrote the news piece. Are they a credible source? My personal rule is to check the news with three credible news outlets and ask where the sources they quote come from before I believe or share. I learned this in journalism class.

     Many people are using Zoom, FaceTime, and other apps to talk to people. This is a great way to still feel connected and share. Maybe some of you have seen the pics online of groups of friends “hanging out” online. This fosters a feeling of connectedness. Though not physically together, the conversation and laughing can be very rehabilitative.

     I am sure that most of us are really glued to watching movies online, such as Netflix, Hulu, etc. As a fan of psychological thrillers, I used to binge only those shows with intriguing, sometimes scary plotlines. In the last two weeks, I have been revisiting my favorite comedies of the past and finding new movies with lighter themes. This puts me in a more cheerful headspace. Of course I still watch some psychological thrillers, but I have limited just how many.

     Journaling is a great way to get thoughts and feelings out. I know, I know, a lot of students do not like to write. But if you start little by little, you may find that it helps. Some experts suggest doing a gratitude journal listing all the things you are grateful for in these hard times. For example, my mother lives in an assisted living facility. I miss visiting her and going out to lunch. I could concentrate on the fact that I cannot physically be with her. Or, I can focus my thinking on how lucky I am to live in a time where electronic devices can let me see and hear her. When you make finding positivity a habit, it can change the way your mind experiences the world. Through journaling we can begin to change our thoughts.

     Another outlet and stress reliever is music. Listening to a favorite song can usually change my mood from down to positive quickly. If you know how to play instruments, this time could be used to practice, learn songs, or just noodle around. Many of our favorite musicians have been posting intimate concerts from their homes. For those of you that do play an instrument or sing, you could post your videos on Facebook, Instagram and other outlets.

     I hope trying these suggestions gives you a smile and makes you feel positive. If you find yourself struggling, I hope you have someone in your life that you can express this to. Below, I am listing some resources for people struggling with mental health issues and addiction. Also, if you ever need, you can email me at: david@learnmorecenter.org and I would be willing to chat. Please be safe and be kind to one another and most importantly to yourself. We will get through this and life will return to normal. Another outlet and stress reliever is music. Listening to a favorite song can usually change my mood from down to positive quickly. If you know how to play instruments, this time could be used to practice, learn songs, or just noodle around. Many of our favorite musicians have been posting intimate concerts from their homes. For those of you that do play an instrument or sing, you could post your videos on Facebook, Instagram and other outlets.

     I hope trying these suggestions gives you a smile and makes you feel positive. If you find yourself struggling, I hope you have someone in your life that you can express this to.
Below, I am listing some resources for people struggling with mental health issues and addiction. Also, if you ever need, you can email me at: david@learnmorecenter.org and I would be willing to chat. Please be safe and be kind to one another and most importantly to yourself. We will get through this and life will return to normal.

David Fisher

Life Coach/Instructor

RESOURCES
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html (This is from the Center for Disease Control about coping with stress and anxiety.)
SAMHSA.gov (This is the website for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Ten Tips to Maximize Online Learning

Most of us are sheltering in place right now, but that doesn’t mean learning has to stop. Learn More Center, for one, has lots of options for learning—from online conferencing to through-the-mail lessons. If you’re ready to learn, we’re here. However, many of you may be new to online learning (our most popular choice), so here are ten tips to maximize online learning.

  1. Communicate with your instructor. Be sure you have both agreed on the time and method with which you will be in contact. If you can’t show up, let your instructor know. If you haven’t had a chance to do your homework, show up anyway.
  2. Minimize background distractions. This may mean putting your kids in front of their favorite video for the hundredth time or ducking into a bedroom during a call. It’s okay if a little one appears onscreen – even late-night talk show hosts are being interrupted by their children on camera — but try to get alone time so you can focus.
  3. Don’t hesitate to reach out between sessions, via email or text or however you and your instructor have agreed that you should contact her. If you’re confused on a topic, no worries, that’s what we’re here for. If you’ve forgotten what your assignment is, reach out.
  4. Let’s face it, some of us aren’t thrilled at seeing ourselves onscreen. We can end up more worried about how our hair looks than paying attention to the lesson at hand. That’s normal, and psst… your instructor likely feels the same way. Don’t sweat it. Here’s a tip: don’t look at yourself, look at the other person.
  5. Afraid that you won’t know how to use the technology? Listen, we’re all on a learning curve right now. From Facebook video chat to Google classroom or Zoom sessions, it’s not as hard as you might think to get going. In some cases it’s just a step up from FaceTime. Speaking of, we can use that, too! We’ll help you figure it out.
  6. Ask your instructor ahead of time what to do if you get cut off during a call. Will you be sent a new Zoom link, or receive a call back?
  7. We get it, it’s a challenging time, but try to come to your call as prepared as possible. If you were able to do your homework, bring it to the screen with you. If you have questions, have them with you. It goes without saying, of course, to bring a pen and paper the call.
  8. There are a TON of free resources out there online right now. Your instructor can give you a list of those that are most appropriate to your needs, but in addition, if you’re working on, say, pronouns, try searching for pronoun lessons online, and you’ll find plenty of practice.
  9. Incorporate your family into your learning. You can have them watch educational videos with you, or “infotainment,” shows that help you learn while being entertained, whether they’re directly related to your learning plan or not. Sure, it’s fine to watch yet another season of The Office, but what about West Wing if you’re studying history? Or Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to learn the art of the filibuster? Been meaning to read together as a family? What a great time to choose a novel you can all enjoy and read, say, a chapter a day. It might just become a habit.
  10. Go easy on yourself. If you have younger children, you might be teaching them right now; you’re certainly helping them with their homework. So while it’s good to press forward with your goals, we’re living in a world none of us has experienced before. Extend your deadlines. Do only what you can comfortably do right now. That’s the beauty of the HSE program – you can earn your degree year round.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have further questions about online learning.

We’re here.

Celebrities Who Have Earned an HSE Diploma

Need to earn your high school equivalency diploma? Join the many celebrities you doubtless know who already have!

Actor Christian Slater is perhaps best known for his role in the 1988 film Heathers. In the YouTube clip below, he shares with Ellen how working from the age of nine prevented him from finishing school, but once he became a father, he wanted to be a good example for his children, so he went back to school and earned his HSE.

Watch from minute 1:48, where he discusses his “why” on Ellen

Jim Carrey dropped out of school at 16 to help support his family when his mother became ill. The Canadian was a straight-A student when he left school to work in a factory, he has shared in interviews. Eventually the star of Ace Ventura Pet Detective, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and many other films made good on his early promise and earned his high school equivalency diploma.

The list continues. Chris Rock, Angelina Jolie, Mark Wahlberg, Charlie Sheen, Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, Michael J. Fox, and Christina Applegate have also earned their HSE diplomas. D.L. Hughley, Britney Spears, and even Beyoncé are also reported to have received theirs. Rapper Eminem, Pink, Davie Bowie, Jerry Garcia, and Waylon Jennings are even more musicians who have gone back to school.

In addition, Mary Lou Retton, the Olympic gymnast, news anchor Peter Jennings, and Oscar de la Hoya, the famed boxer, are among those who have earned an HSE.

This is only a partial list of celebrities who in some cases took the time to study for their high school equivalency diplomas even after they were well known. If they can do it, so can you!

Contact us today to find out how to begin your journey. Call (260) 330-1461, or email us at info@learnmorecenter.org 

Learning More at the Learn More Center

When I was eight years old, my brother and I used to play “school.” It wasn’t the most creative game but, being as young as we were, it was difficult to think of elaborate rules and requirements for something so simple. The game went something like this: One person would be the teacher (which I insisted on being, only occasionally allowing my brother the privilege of taking on such a major role), while using a laundry basket as a desk to sit behind and assign lessons to the student (who did not get a desk). The work was about as simple as you would expect it to be, given that an eight-year-old was the one “teaching.” That was it. At the time, it was much more riveting than it sounds, as our eager child spirits found joy in such a simple pleasure. While work was hardly ever done no matter what role in the game you played and, to be honest, the game was often cut short as new ideas, games, or arguments came into play, there was one thing I sure of even at that time: I wanted to be a teacher.

            Flash forward twelve years and here I am, studying English as a senior at Manchester University and working as an ELL (English Language Learner) instructor at the Learn More Center. When I first got the opportunity to intern at LMC, I never expected to see my dreams come to life in the way they have over the past few months. Being only an intern, I expected filing paperwork, taking out the trash, and making copies to fill my days. While I most definitely did all of that, I have also done so much more. I have tutored adults with special needs, worked with students within our correctional facility, connected with people who have gone through more in life than I can begin to explain, and learned more than I think I could even hope to teach. The beauty about LMC, I have learned, is that every person you meet has a story to tell. We do not shy away from hearing their stories, working with each student, and appreciating them no matter what.

            Right now, my main job at LMC is to teach English to speakers of other languages. While our days are spent reviewing the alphabet, discussing parts of speech, or practicing writing paragraphs, we also spend time connecting, sharing stories, and finding common ground. I find that at the end of every day that I work, I go home with a story that I can’t wait to share. I want to tell everyone about the wonderful students I talk to each and every day. I want to discuss the inspiration and strength that exudes from each person who walks through the LMC doors as they tell stories of abuse, neglect, hardship, and anything you can imagine, yet they’re here. I want the world to know that little non-profits like us are not to be dismissed, because there are people working harder than I ever thought possible to achieve things that many others take for granted. The Learn More Center is a place to go when you want your life to change. Whether the role you play there is tutor, student, intern, or guest, you will always be considered family.

Erin Brock
ESL Instructor

GE

A New Lease on Life

     In 1990 I had to drop out of college when I had my first child. I raised five children by myself for seventeen years, working as many as four jobs to make ends meet. Then I married and raised three more for a total of eight kids. When the nest was empty, I settled into one good job that I was sure I could retire at. Then, because of some faulty equipment, I ended up with a disabling neck injury and was put back at square one. I could no longer do any kind of physically demanding work.

     I had sent two of my children through the Learn More Center for their GED years prior, so I contacted Cynthia Johnson to see if they could help me find a new career; I just wasn’t willing to give up. Finances were nonexistent for me; however, she was able to find funding for me to go back to college through the Learn More Center and Freedom Academy.

     I graduated top of my class and passed my test to become a Certified Healthcare Access Associate! Shortly after that, she was able to help me study for and take the test (through Ivy Tech) to receive my Paraprofessional license as well!

    Thanks to the efforts and help of Cynthia and all the volunteers at The Learn More Center, I am now a federal employee with the US Department of Commerce with the 2020 Census, as well as a contractual Medical Office Clerk for the Veterans Administration.

     Two years ago, I felt that my life was essentially over; I was just another disabled person who would end up on public assistance. Little did I know that Cynthia and all the amazing people at The Learn More Center would help me get a new lease on life!

By Tina Marie Mengerink-James

Congratulations, Tina, for not only being inducted into the National Adult Education Honor Society, but also passing her Patient Access exam, and Paraprofessional exam. We are so honored to share in her journeys.

Keep Pushing

Hey y’all! How are y’all doing? Good, I hope! So I don’t have as much room as I’d like to tell you the reason I chose to come back to school, but I think I can cram it in like a good ole can of sardines. Please forgive me, as I forgot to introduce myself to you all. My name is Deanna Lynn Keller. I am 21 years old and I was born and raised in “sweet home Alabama.” This is my story.

     So…I grew up poor with no support or love from family; this caused me to become very independent at a young age. I had no dad, no grandparents, and sadly I had no real mom. I was very self-reliant and hated being home. I hated being at school; I didn’t understand it for the life of me. So I decided to drop out of school at 17. I was a junior in high school. At the time, I was only able to do 9th grade classes. I guess it seemed reasonable at the time, but in reality I wasn’t succeeding.

     I have realized since that had I tried harder, cared more, and applied myself I would have finished high school successfully. A bit of advice—“Patience is a virtue.”  I wish I would have had some then.

     I knew I had to do something. I was feeling really down and discouraged, so I called my sissy. She is a voice of reason and a source of support for me. She suggested that I move to Indiana and start over. First on my list was getting my high school diploma. My sister can be very convincing, and for that I am grateful. Not even two weeks after returning here, I was signed up for classes. Y’all, it was the best decision I ever made!

     In conclusion, it has been nearly 3 months since that first class. I am about to graduate with my High School Equivalency diploma. I owe it all to hard work, Learn More Center support, and my sister. I want YOU to know YOU CAN DO IT, TOO! DON’T EVER GIVE UP! KEEP PUSHING! NO MATTER WHAT!

By Deanna Keller

North Manchester
Town Life Center

603 Bond Street
North Manchester, IN 46962
Phone: (260) 330-1461
HSE Exam scheduling:
(260) 330-3553

Hours:
Monday: 9am-7pm
Wednesday: 9am-7pm

Wabash
Wabash County Community Learning Center

277 North Thorne Street
Wabash, IN 46992
Phone: (260) 330-1082

Hours:
Tuesday: 9am-6pm
Thursday: 9am-3pm

Email:info@learnmorecenter.org
 

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