Local woman reaps rewards of earning GED
by Celia Shortt
This Christmas season, Coweta resident and White Oak School employee Patricia “Patty” Hall is celebrating a new direction for her life after earning her GED.
Hall moved to Georgia from Missouri when she was in high school. While in Missouri, she was an A student on the honor roll. After moving to Georgia and starting high school in Fairburn, she experienced a new culture, including racial differences she was not expecting and to which she was not accustomed.
For the first time, Hall experienced students of another race who wanted to fight her. She was so uncomfortable with it that she stopped going to school.
Earlier this year, Hall started taking classes in Grantville in order to earn her high school equivalency certification, or GED.
“She and her son (Jeffrey Hall) came together to class on a Saturday in April,” said Shelly Smith, a Grantville resident who organizes the GED classes. “She would come faithfully to class. Not only would she come, but she would also help others there.”
Hall kept working and taking classes but was forced to stop because of unforeseen circumstances.
At the time, she was working at White Oak as “acting manager” of the cafeteria. There was an opening for manager, but she could not apply because she needed a GED.
“My kids were telling me I was smart enough, and the staff and school system here really wanted me to go back,” she said.
Hall listened to her kids and her co-workers and resumed taking classes and persevered. One day, she was talking to Ms. Wanda, a co-worker, about the test and her struggle to afford taking it.
After hearing her struggle, Ms. Wanda told the school and took up a collection to pay for Hall’s test fees. She presented it to Hall on her birthday. “The support here to get through it is awesome,” she said. “You couldn’t ask for a better staff and support system than here. Everyone was so supportive. It made me want to pass.”
“We had an opening for a kitchen manager, and in order for Patty to apply for the position she had to complete her GED,” said Principal of White Oak Elementary School Andrew Clarke. “She only had a few weeks to complete it so that she would be ready to apply.”
Hall completed and officially passed the GED on Oct. 17.
“She was able to pass all the tests and subsequently applied and was chosen as White Oaks’ cafeteria manager,” said Clarke.
Now, Hall is thriving at her new position and encouraged with the direction her life is taking.
“The GED definitely changed my life for the better,” she said. “I can financially provide for my family without any help. I know I can have a house for my kids and provide for my kids through college.”
“Her self-esteem is out the roof,” said Smith. “She is a different person because she has accomplished this. The school was behind her 100 percent. She is a shining example of what can happen if you apply yourself.”
Hall’s achievement is also encouraging others, including her son Jeffrey and co-worker Allison Taylor.
After she completed her GED, her son Jeffrey finished his.
Taylor was also encouraged to continue her education.
Taylor is the head custodian at the school and is working to complete her GED. She was unable to finish high school after having her first child at a young age. She is a single mom and desires more education to better herself.
“I took the test in 2000, and passed everything but math,” she said. “[It] got thrown out with that and did not go forward.”
“Patty inspired me to go back,” she added. “This school is so supportive, it’s a big blessing; you know, when you have people behind you. It’s a blessing to be at White Oak Elementary.”
When the school found out Taylor was working on her GED and was taking the test within a week, they organized a collection that covered her test fees as well.
Currently, Taylor is still in the process of completing her GED. She has passed some of the sections and is working to pass the rest before the test change at the end of the year.
“Even if I don’t pass, I’m not going to give up,” she said. “Even if I don’t finish before January, I won’t give up.”
The GED test will be changing Jan. 1. People who have started but have not completed the test will forfeit all scores and test fees. They are encouraged to finish by Dec. 31