For many students, the idea of going back to school marks the beginning of a new school year. It is a time for shopping, planning, preparing, and for some students – even mourning. It usually signifies the end of summer, vacations, camp, and family barbecues. Simply put, it’s not likely the average student is celebrating the thought of their fun coming to an end.
However, for students entering the Goodwill Excel Center (GEC) this fall – the phrase “back to school” has great significance. Life commitments and circumstances can often create barriers for those who want to graduate from high school. At the GEC, adult learners residing in the District can receive a tuition-free, high-school education with the help of Academic Success Coaches, College and Career Counselors, high-quality instructors, and flexible scheduling. The first day of high school at the GEC is more than just the start of a new semester for our students. It is also the first step toward new and exciting opportunities, self-empowerment, greater self-sustainability, and a high-school diploma. A fresh start in this form is in many ways – liberating. Our students can let go of the past, reset their goals, and focus on their future regardless of where they are in life.
Johnajia, a 2019 GEC graduate, echoes this sentiment:
“I went to a lot of DC & PG County schools…the school that I was attending, they didn’t want to allow me to come back because I had a child. So I had to make another decision whether I was going to take GED classes, or if I [cound find] further education…to take me to my high school diploma. So I found the Goodwill Excel Center. I looked up public charter schools and the Goodwill Excel Center came up first. It was welcoming because when I first started the whole YMCA came to me basically to welcome me. They knew I had a little boy; my son was 6 weeks old when he came…he basically started walking at the Goodwill Excel Center…something told me my son was going to be in good hands. I’ve always been told from others, and I always told myself I couldn’t do it. So when I came to the Goodwill Excel Center I had all these supports around me…they told me ‘oh no, you’ve got this…you’re going to make it!’ Now I’m here and I’m graduating.”
The following video details Johnajia’s journey at the GEC as student and a mother. We are happy to share her story with the hopes that she not only motivates future classes of high school graduates, but also inspires anyone who desires a fresh start in life.
To those who have recently started classes at the GEC – we welcome you! We are proud of you for taking this monumental leap into the next phase of your education! We hope that students all over the region, and of all ages, have a prosperous school year.