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Archuleta County Education Center continues to change lives

On a cold day in the month of April, a 35-year-old man walked into the Education Center to do what he had dreamed of doing for many years — start classes to receive his GED. His name was Jerry Shugart.

Jerry had been a faithful employee of Circle T for seven years, and when Circle T shut its doors, it was the wrong time for Jerry. He was not only faced with the hardship and challenge of finding employment, but was also faced with the difficulty of taking care of his children with no job.

A friend who knew he wanted to obtain his GED mentioned that the Education Center offered the GED program. He enrolled through the Father’s Advocacy program and began classes.

Jerry didn’t know about the WIN and WorkKeys programs when he started the GED. Several members of the Ed Center’s staff made him aware that he was eligible to participate in the ACT WorkKeys assessment program and earn a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), which would be useful for securing employment, verifying skill levels, identifying post-secondary training programs and college opportunities. Doug Bowen, the Archuleta County High School principal, knew Jerry was interested in eventually moving to PA to be closer to his children and informed him that businesses on the East coast were keen on hiring people who had the certificate. Jerry agreed to participate in the WIN and WorkKeys programs, and the rest is history.

Jerry Shugart has earned the NCRC and is the first person at the Archuleta County Education Center to receive the Gold level CareerReady Colorado Certificate (CRCC), a certification initiative signed into law by Governor Ritter on July 1 that certifies job seeker skills. The Bronze, Silver, and Gold skill levels certified on the certificate based on ACT WorkKeys assessments are in Applied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading for Information. The Gold level is the highest level awarded and certifies that Jerry has scored at least a Level 5 in all three areas, and possesses the necessary foundational skills for 90 percent of the jobs in the WorkKeys national database of over 1,400 job titles.

“I really enjoyed working with Jerry,” said Mark Wardell, the GED instructor. “His dedication to learn was evidenced by his passing the GED with test scores that ranked higher than the Colorado average.”

Jerry is currently looking for employment and has applied to the University of Phoenix and Kaplan University and plans to enroll in one of them as soon as he can afford Internet service. He wants a degree in Information Technology (IT). When asked how he feels now that he has obtained his GED and the NCRC and CRCC certificates, he was quick to respond.

“It has changed my life,” he said. “I don’t think my self-esteem could get much higher. I’ll be able to start college and have more jobs open up for me. My personal goal is to show my kids how important an education is and be a good example for them. I want them to know they can always make a better life for themselves. I’ve been telling everybody I know that wants to get a GED that they need to talk to the Ed Center,” he continued. “If you haven’t got a high school education, the Ed Center is the way to go. There are a lot of nice people there to help you, and it’s worth it!”