Student Spotlight: Ryan, an LCMC GED Learner

November 8th, 2018

“People compliment me all the time on my writing, because I do free-style writing. I read books well, so people compliment me on vocabulary, they ask me, ‘are you in somebody’s school, did you graduate?’ I say no. So I felt compelled… to come here.”

Ryan is a Silver Spring resident who is taking part in LCMC’s GED program, which launched earlier this year at Long Branch Library. It is expanding throughout Silver Spring and now into Rockville and Gaithersburg, and Ryan is one of its star students. He exemplifies the inherent talent that our community misses out on when we allow younger students to fall through the cracks of traditional K-12 school.

GED Programs like ours can make the difference in one person’s life – and they support the differences that learners like Ryan can make in our community.

Ryan studies for his GED exam.

Why Don’t Teens Graduate High School?

While Ryan cites “getting in trouble at an early age” as the reason he did not finish high school, professionals in the education and youth development fields have long been concerned with why certain high school students, more than others, start participating in riskier activities that distract or interrupt their schooling, eventually leading to dropping out. Studies show that lack of parental engagement and/or supportive adult in ones life, loss of belief in one’s own academic abilities, social issues within school walls or outside of them usurping attention over schoolwork, disconnect between school academics and ones everyday reality, not enough individualized attention, and families of lower socioeconomic status can all lead to higher high school dropout rates.

Ryan’s particular circumstances include elements of many of the reasons why learners like him don’t complete high school. Like many, he was and continues to be a talented, intelligent young man, who as a teen was not getting the engagement and encouragement he needed to succeed. Now 32, Ryan found a second chance at finishing high school, and jumped at it.

“[My job coach and I] had been talking about me going and pursuing my GED for years. I’d been wanting to do that for years, I just always put it off… We saw [LCMC’s] program at the library so we called and checked it out.”

Why Does LCMC’s GED Program Work for Ryan?

It was at LCMC’s GED class that Ryan met his tutor, Dave, who expected Ryan to take their sessions as seriously as he did. “He’s like, hands on. So I had to question myself. I had to ask myself, ‘Is this what I want for my life?'” Ryan decided it was. “Mr. Dave, he’s a wonderful instructor… I became very fond of him.” He adds, “I made a promise that I’m going get my GED… for myself. It’s something that I want to do.”

Ryan and his tutor, Dave

Currently, LCMC’s GED program is offered at not just Long Branch Library where students can drop in on Mondays and Wednesdays to work with our available tutors waiting on hand, but we are expanding to new locations as well. We’ve begun a class at Kings and Priests’ Court International Ministries, a church in East County, where we recently registered 10 additional students to the program. Because the demand is great, in November, we are also starting a class in our very own LCMC office at the Rockville Memorial Library and at the local TANF provider’s office in Gaithersburg. We are especially excited about this new partnership with our county’s TANF vendor (Res-Care) in that this opens us to new populations in the county that need us.

There are a number of GED prep courses available in the county, but few are free, and few offer a bridge between 5th grade proficiency in reading and math to 9th grade proficiency. LCMC, on the other hand, welcomes learners who need that middle grades instructional bridge, and offers instruction that can meet our learners where they are. Ryan was already an excellent reader and a talented writer, but “my math was terrible. I didn’t know fractions, I didn’t know how to do algebra, I didn’t know how to do decimals, nothing, but I sat here for the past three months, just taking the notes.”

What Should Someone Who Needs GED Prep Do?

Ryan was nervous at first, but reminds those who might be in his position that, “If you want the short end of the stick, live without a GED. In this economy right now, though, if you want a good-paying job, you have to produce a high school diploma.” Ryan explains his anxiety about first starting the program, saying, “I’m 32 years old, I hadn’t been to school since I was 16. When I came in the door, I was 16 years with… nothing… To the person who has doubts… face your fears.”

Facing his fears indeed, Ryan’s dreams have expanded. “I plan to go to Montgomery College, or go to either a community college or a major college, and pursue my psychology degree.” For a young man who has so admirably mastered his own self-doubt to work toward the quality of life he wants to live, we know Ryan will accomplish that plan and more – and we’re excited to see how he pays it forward in our community.

To support Ryan and our other GED learners, you can make a one-time donation or set up a monthly contribution.

You can also contact Darrell Farley, GED Site Manager, if you or someone you know needs help obtaining their GED, or to volunteer as a tutor at our new Rockville GED class. You can also contact Denise Hill, Director of Community Impact, if you know of a community in the area in need of individualized GED instruction, and/or have a space in Gaithersburg or Germantown in mind that could host a GED class there.