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MU Extension helps high school dropouts reengage with education

MACON — A program from University of Missouri Extension’s Missouri Training Institute (MTI) provides training for educators who help dropouts seeking their high school equivalency credentials.

Each year more than 3 million young Americans enter adulthood without a high school diploma.

Stacey Blodgett, a trainer and consultant with MTI, oversees teacher training through the Missouri Adult Education and Literacy program, in cooperation with the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

“These students need to have an education so they are competitive in the workforce,” Blodgett explains. “They need to develop skills to give them opportunities. With opportunities in education, they have opportunities for employment. If our students are employed they are no longer accessing social welfare programs and become contributing citizens, paying tax dollars, which assist communities to be strong.”

MTI has worked with DESE for the past three years to train adult education and literacy instructors.

“DESE recognized the importance of keeping their teachers abreast of the changes in the adult education field,” says Blodgett. “They have 300 adult education class sites throughout Missouri. Our role is to travel throughout the state trying to meet the needs of their teachers so they can meet the needs of their students.”

Lorri Davis, an adult education teacher in Macon, works with local students to improve their math skills and help them reach their high school equivalency goals. Davis is one of more than 700 Missouri adult education teachers who receive MTI training annually to improve their teaching proficiency.

She feels a lot of responsibility working with her adult students and is honored to help them.

“They have decided to take time out of their busy lives because this is important to them now,” says Davis. “We have an opportunity to give them a second chance. I appreciate that they are making the effort and I feel that we can give them that support.”

Students return to further their educations for a variety of reasons. Samantha Thompson, one of Davis’s students in Macon, wants to work in child development and start her own day care.

“I look forward to working with kids,” she says. “I love kids. I have two of my own.”

Another Macon-based student, Ryan Perrin, likes science and wants to pursue a career in radiology.

“I need to get back on track and better myself,” says Ryan. “The more one-on-one help you get, the easier it is to learn. A positive attitude has a lot to do with it. I pick myself up and keep going. That’s all I can do.”

Thompson and Perrin are just two examples of the many young adults in the state who’ve returned to the path of education. It will help them meet the demands of an increasingly complex work world.

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