Literacy Connection's GED prep class in Spanish quickly becomes popular

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Shelly Birkelo
Tuesday, July 30, 2013

JANESVILLE—Daniela Arenas couldn't enroll in cosmetology school because she didn't have her high school equivalency degree.

Janeth Trejo isn't able to help her children with their homework as much as she'd like  and dreams of becoming a nurse.

That's why both of these Janesville stay-at-home moms enrolled in the Literacy Connection's new GED Preparation Class in Spanish.

The two-hour weekly class started May 6 as a pilot program at Faith Lutheran Church, 2116 Mineral Point Ave. Barb Becker, council volunteer, teaches it.

“We were going to start slow until we worked out the bugs and publicize it more this fall, but we got 18 registered right away,” said Cathy Jennings, executive director.

Jennings said the class is popular for several reasons.

It is a partnership with Faith Lutheran Church, which has a Latino ministry, and there will be a change in the GED test in 2014 when it will be offered exclusively online.

"So not only will students need to know the course content to pass the test, they will  have to be able to get online, be able to navigate the test and type, and it's timed, which adds another level of difficulty,” Jennings said.

As soon as funding is found, the council will add the computer practice component to the course.

“We're submitting grants one after another, so hopefully we'll get funding soon to get more laptops to help support the class,'' Jennings said.

The Stateline Literacy Council in Beloit is the only other local organization that offers the GED Preparation Class in Spanish.

“It's just been hugely popular, so we thought we would try it, too,” Jennings said.

Trejo and Arenas are glad.

“It's an opportunity for me to continue studying because I'm thinking about becoming a nurse,” said Trejo, 24.

Earning her GED, she said, will enable her to provide more homework help to her two children and be a role model for them.

Now that her daughters are 4 and 7 years old, Arenas said, she wants a career in cosmetology.

“I like beauty, hair and everything about makeup,” the 29-year-old said.

 Ten of the students in the new GED class, including Arenas and Trejo, are actively working on their English with the Literacy Connection, Jennings said.

They know learning the language and getting their GED go hand-in-hand to succeed, she said.

Jennings is confident that demand for the class will only grow.

 “Jobs of the future are going to require more education and training than a high school diploma,” she said. “So if we can help them get their GED faster or get it period, then they can move on to get prepared for those better jobs.”

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