Campus News

New GED Program in Eastern Ky. Graduates First Class


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 23, 2010) - Jerilyn Baker knew she wanted to earn her GED, but was reluctant because she didn't even know how to turn on a computer. Thanks to an innovative new program, Baker not only has her GED and knows how to turn on a computer, but has also developed a wide range of professional skills and earned 19 college credits.

Spearheaded by University of Kentucky College of Education's Laurie Henry, the program, titled PLUGGEDIN-KY, is a technology contextualized GED program that emphasizes the integration of 21st Century skills through problem-based, job-embedded learning activities. Modeled after a similar program piloted in Southwest Virginia, for which Henry developed the curriculum, PLUGGEDIN-KY recently graduated its first class of nine students in the Eastern Kentucky towns of Middlesboro and Cumberland.

"I am so pleased with the success of the PLUGGEDIN-KY curriculum both here and in Virginia," said Henry, an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. "This program not only provides a second chance at education for high school dropouts, but it also changes lives. Students graduate with a new skill set for the 21st century workplace, but more importantly, they have an increased sense of self worth and a newly discovered excitement about learning."

Designed to allow high school dropouts to earn their GED and give them an opportunity to learn skills to enhance their marketability in the growing technology sector, the program includes four key areas of learning:

--GED and Career Readiness;

--Occupation-specific Professional Soft Skills;

--Contextual Curriculum (e.g. Microsoft Digital Literacy Certifications/computer skills); and

--21st Century Skills (e.g. critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, etc.)

At the end of the six-month adult education program, students earn their GED, a Career Readiness Certificate, an IC3 Certificate and one or more Microsoft Digital Literacy Certificates. Successful completion also earned each student 19 college credits through the Southeast Kentucky Community Technical College (SKCTC).

"It has been a very successful six months," said Brenda Morris, director of the program. "Students earned many certifications, earned their GED, gained self-esteem and attained many related job skills. The PLUGGEDIN-KY students also have gained respect and recognition at both the college and in the community."

With one student joining the National Guard with a career interest in forensic science and six students now enrolled in classes at SKCTC , the program has seen remarkable success in a short amount of time. Funded by Kentucky Adult Education (KYAE), SKCTC and the Eastern Kentucky Cooperative, the program is planning to expand across Kentucky. Sites in northern Kentucky, western Kentucky, Hardin County and Jefferson County are being identified as possible locations for the next classes beginning in January 2011. Additional funding will come from a grant supplied by the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

Along with Henry and Morris, other key administrators in the program included: Marilyn Lyons and Reecie Stagnolia, KYAE, Council on Postsecondary Education; Kathy Newman and Kit Hensley, GED instructors; Elana Scopa and Travis Cox, GED instructors' support; Bobbie Dixon and Dwayne Gibson, computer instructors; Wheeler Conover, SKCTC chief academic affairs officer; and Bruce Ayers, SKCTC president.

"We all ended up becoming a family," said graduate Jane Brock. "I love all my teachers and I want to say thanks for this program. It's taught all of us something and has changed our lives. I just want to say thanks for this opportunity."