Changing lives: College program helps educate Johnson County residents
By Jon Parton
Literacy and education can determine how much money a person makes, quality of life and can even be linked to crime rates and incarceration, according to a report by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.
For 27 years, the Johnson County Adult Education (JCAE) program has been working with Johnson County residents who want to improve their lives.
The program offers adult basic education (ABE), GED test preparation and English as a second language (ESL) courses. The program also offers help for those who would like to make a transition in becoming students at the college.
Susan McCabe, program director, ABE/GED/ESL, is now in her 26th year of working for the program. McCabe said that volunteers greatly help the program meet its goals.
“We have about 160 volunteers,” McCabe said. “We do volunteer orientation on campus about three to four times a year. We always need volunteers.”
McCabe explained that the program receives more than 2,500 students a year, many of them requiring one-on-one instruction.
“We in Johnson County are so incredibly lucky to have such a talented pool of volunteers,” McCabe said. “But there’s always a need for more. There’s just lots of different opportunities.”
McCabe said that she finds the work to be rewarding.
“It’s never doubting that you made a difference in somebody’s life,” McCabe said. “We’re giving students the tools they need to succeed in life.”
Bea Peeke, program coordinator, ABE/GED/ESL, is also in her 26th year of working for the program. Peeke said that the JCAE program assists a wide variety of residents in the community.
“We work with adult basic education,” Peeke said. “Those are students who are literacy students or just wanting to improve in writing, math, or reading. Some of our moms come in because they want to be able to help their children with their homework.”
Peeke said that the majority of her work involves GED test preparation.
“That’s actually given at the main campus, but in the state of Kansas you’re required to pass a practice test before you can go register for the official GED test,” Peeke said.
Peeke said that the program goes above and beyond just preparing students for the GED test.
“Now we’re able to work with them and help them set career goals and set if they want to work on a certificate program,” Peeke said. “We’ve done a lot of work on becoming familiar with the programs at the campus, so we can do a lot of good counseling at the campus level.”
Sherry Sibold, volunteer, is a retiree who has only lived in Johnson County a short time, but said that she knew she wanted to assist others.
“I think we were all created to help,” Sibold said. “Even in retirement, it makes you feel good. It feels good to know that people are appreciative of your help and your time.”
Students interested in volunteering can contact Chris Specht, Johnson County Adult Education volunteer coordinator, at 913-469-3003.
Contact Jon Parton, news editor, at email@example.com.