Adult education student Sonia Ramos receives advice from Stafford Dudley of ITT Technical Institute in Atlanta.
JONESBORO — Clayton County Public Schools’ adult education program is more than a quarter century old.
But the program recently expanded its reach with its first college and career fair.
James Wilburn, the program’s coordinator, helped organize the event — attended by representatives from Empire Beauty School in Morrow, ITT Technical Institute in Atlanta and Strayer University in Morrow.
“I just wanted to bring to the forefront what we’re trying to do,” Wilburn said. “We want to challenge our students to consider post-secondary options. We want them to see themselves as college students who will successfully matriculate at the college of their choice.”
The program offers English as a Second Language and General Educational Development classes to Clayton County residents.
Wilburn pointed to a high completion rate so far this year at 84 percent, as of Dec. 21. More than 700 students are enrolled with an additional 150 projected to enroll by year’s end.
“Last year, we served a little more than 1,000 students but I wanted to increase our graduation rates,” he said.
He said enrollment is tighter this year so educators can focus on students who are able to commit to attending classes steadily.
“Retention is key,” Wilburn said. “No one quits this program. Before anyone quits this program, they have to have an exit interview with me. My goal is to make sure you walk out of here this year with your GED.”
He said the current class of students are motivated to succeed in learning English or earning a GED certificate.
“Most of our individuals are not just out of high school,” he said. “The average student is between 26 and 44 years old. They recognize some of their not-so-good choices from the past and that this may be a last opportunity to right a wrong.”
Wilburn, also a past principal at North Clayton High School, said his adult students serve as potential examples for their younger counterparts.
“The bulk of our students are parents and they come to us wanting to be better parents,” he said. “If we do our jobs, then our students will go on to be more responsible parents and that will translate in traditional school settings.”
ESL classes from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Eula Wilborn Ponds Perry Center for Learning, 137 Spring St. in Jonesboro.
GED classes are offered from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at the center. GED evening classes are from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Forest Park High School, at 5452 Phillips Drive, hosts ESL and GED evening classes from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays.
Wilburn plans to host another, larger college and career fair this spring. He said the program is also looking for volunteers to help with the program. Interested residents are asked to call 770-515-7601.