Left, Sylvia James, left, with her stepmother, Geraldine Stark, at the graduation ceremony at the Brunner Literacy Center. Sylvia was among 25 clients who passed the general equivalency diploma test after studying at the center. Right, Precious Blood Sister Helen Weber speaks during the graduation ceremony.
After becoming pregnant in high school and then having four more children, Sylvia James figured her chance at completing secondary education had passed.
“I gave up,” she said.
About two years ago, however, she began working with Precious Blood Sister Ruth Ann Meyer at the Brunner Literacy Center (BLC) in Dayton on a graduate equivalence diploma. After years of struggle and study, she passed the test and earned her GED.
James was among 22 BLC clients recognized during a special graduation ceremony at the center on Jan. 15. The clients, each of whom passed the GED test, were called individually to receive a certificate noting their achievement. Family members snapped pictures. Tutors from the center smiled and applauded during the presentation.
The tutors and administrators at the center keep the clients focused on success, clients said. It makes the difference.
“For them to push us along and motivate us, it gave me more confidence,” James said. “It gave me belief in myself.”
Joseph Thomas, who passed the GED test in 2012 after studying at the center, is now a student at Sinclair Community College in Dayton with a 3.1 grade point average in the school’s computer network engineering program. He was able to understand college material because of his work at BLC.
“They prepared me quite a bit for college,” said Thomas, the center’s first client to earn a GED. “I studied a lot of math here.”
Among the BLC graduates were five siblings of the Prather family. Their father is going to begin the program this year.
The center opened in 2011 to address a high rate of illiteracy in the area. The center offers one-on-one tutoring to those who wish to pursue a GED or simply want to enhance their skills in basic subjects. The center serves about 150 clients with more than 90 volunteer tutors.
BLC was co-founded by Precious Blood Sisters Helen Weber and Maryann Bremke. Several Sisters regularly tutor at the center.
Story and photos by Dave Eck