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Molly Robertson"In most states, a high school diploma USUALLY means that an individual can read, write and compute at a certain level. A GED diploma ALWAYS means that a person can read, write and compute at a certain level; a level that one in four high school seniors cannot achieve."

Molly K. Robertson is the founding director of the Indiana GED on TV program. She left high school at 16, earned a GED in 1982, and holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's in telecommunications. She lives in Muncie, Indiana, with two large, rowdy black poodles.

Since the GED ON TV program expanded to serve the entire state of Indiana in 1990, more than 7,600 Hoosier adults have earned their GED certificates after studying with the GED ON TV programs from home.

Name: Ellen Schuster
Address: Corvallis, OR
Question: Thank you, Molly for sharing your life experiences. Your perseverance is inspiring.
I am spending a lot these days thinking about how people are changing, how their lives are changing as we move into the next century. Do you have any thoughts about how learners will be different in the next century?
Answer: Dear Ellen:
Thanks for your kind words. I am certainly no expert on how learners will be different in the next century. My guess is that adult learners will be pretty much the same as they are now. As the information explosion grows they will definitely need to know more. And the TV children of today may have even shorter attention spans. It is my hope that as educators we will have more and better ways to teach. We learn more about learning disabilities every year. We may have new techniques and technologies that help us adapt to the learning style of each student. It is my personal wish that changes being made now in early childhood and elementary education will make adult education less about remediation and more about enrichment in the coming century.
Name: Alice Champagne
Address: Luling, LA
Question: Is your GED on TV program from Indiana available elsewhere? Our PBS stations in LA show the GED on TV produced by KET (Kentucky Ed. TV); they are good but old-70's or early 80's- and difficult to get past the Kentucky accents. (Of course, we here in Louisiana NEVER speak with an accent! :)

As a 9 year adult ed. instructor, I'm always looking for TV shows to back up what we do in class- it's also good for those dedicated students who can't attend class due to transportation or babysitting hardships.

Answer: Dear Alice:
I have good news for you! Kentucky Educational Television (KET) and PBS are currently hard at work on the new GED ON TV series. Check out The GED Testing Service is releasing a new version of the GED Tests on September 1, 2001 and the KET series to go with it should be ready at the same time. In Indiana we currently use the 1985 KET series and look forward to the new one. Sorry, I can't do anything about those accents!
Name: Pam Keen
Address: Excelsior Springs, MO
Question: Hi my story is a little like yours. I dropped out of school at 17 after completeting the 10th grade. This was so I could have my son, only to find myself raising him alone. I then met a great guy who told me he'd take care of me but another lie. We divorced after 8 years of being together so again I was on my own with my son one more time.

Again I fell in love and we got married and had 2 more kids then after I got a good job he made me quit because it bothered him for me to make more money than him. After 13 years of marriage he decided one day he didn't want to be married anymore so I was left with 2 more kids to raise alone as my oldest son had died 4 years ago from a car accident.

So here I was with not a good job but one that helped to support my kids and myself. As if this couldn't get any worse my then ex decided to stop paying his support for the kids. So I was then forced to get another part time job to supplement my income for now the kids were going into the teen years.

I then met a wondeful man who I moved to Missouri from Indiana for. He's been an inspiration to me. He supports me in any situation that I come against in this world. He has been with me when my ex tried to get custody of my kids which he failed at..ahha..I guess what I am trying to say is if my sweetheart (I found via Internet) hadn't supported me in getting my GED I probably wouldn't have done it because my mother always put me down when I wanted to go get it and so did my ex-husband.

I feel like when I am finished taking my GED I can conquer the world as long as my sweetie is by my side. I am also from Indiana and I am getting my GED. I am sorry this is so long but I need some answers. I want to become a RN or LPN if not an office manager.. Thank you for your time....

Answer: Hi Pam:
Congratulations on your progress! I understand how you felt about your mother's and your former husband's comments. My former husband didn't want me to know I was smart. He tried to make me feel stupid any chance he got. I am so happy you have found a supportive partner at last. That will make it easier to take the steps you need to take to earn your LPN and even your RN. You have chosen a great field for the future.

It will take a lot of hard work, but you have proven that you can work hard. And, it may take a long time. It took me seventeen years to earn my two college degrees. Your GED should get you into college. And there may even be financial help available if you need it. Call the school you would like to attend and ask about scholarships for non-traditional students.

In the sixth century B.C. a Chinese philosopher, Lau Tzu said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" That is still true. You have taken that first step. Good luck with the next steps.

Name: Erin Tomlinson
Address: River Falls, WI
Question: Molly:
What methods can society and schools use to make teen parents aware of the effect that their actions have on their lives, the life of their child and society? If having a child (and keeping it) often keeps a mother from finishing school and making a decent living, doesn't it make sense to educate teens to finish school and start making a living before trying to raise a family?

I believe that we should all do the best we can and use the tools that are provided (including a free education). When teens have babies it seems that it becomes a problem for society, certainly not just for the mother and child. Any ideas?

Answer: Hello Erin:
I wish I had the answer to your question...I could win the Nobel Prize. Yes, of course it makes better sense for kids to get an education and become self-sufficient before they start a family. There are so many reasons kids leave high school before they graduate. Our GED ON TV students have shared zillions of reasons. Some were pregnant, like me. Others have to work to help with family obligations. Still others just don't do well in high school. The pros say, ...they are "not engaged" in their school work. I always tell young people who call about enrolling in GED ON TV, "Stay in school. It is easier to do it when you are young." I wish there was a sure fire way to convince young people of that.

For all of these reasons and more, I am grateful for a program like the GED that gives people a second chance when they are older, wiser and more settled.

Name: Sandy Bailey
Address: Colorado Springs, CO
Question: I loved reading your bio. There are so many adults out there who are afraid of people finding out they didn't graduate from high school and who don't know about GED.

I graduated from high school but married and started a family soon after. I had been a great student who wanted college but couldn't really attend while raising my children.

Finally, when my youngest graduated from high school, we started college at the same time. Being a non-traditional college student appealed to me. I didn't care if there were younger people in my class. Because I was older, school was more relevant and important to me. I rushed to be able to graduate BEFORE my children, which I did with honors. AND both of my children are college graduates; I like to think that it's because they saw me going to school full time and working full time. If I could do it, so could they?

The college program I had initially enrolled in was called PACE (Program for Adult College Education) for those adults who wanted to work school in along with keeping a job.

Now my question to you is this: Why do we not have PACE type programs in every state so that all adults can have that opportunity to attend college and get a degree?

Answer: Dear Sandy:
Congratulations! How wonderful to beat your kids through college and with honors. I'll bet you are as proud of your kids as they are of you. I didn't plan to participate in the graduation ceremony for my bachelor's degree, but my daughters had a fit. They said that they had not eaten all that tomato soup and all those grilled cheese sandwiches for nothing. They wanted to see me in my cap and gown!

I, too, enjoyed being a non-traditional student. It helped me learn that I had gifts. And...I always bought the book, read the book and went to class...which gave me a head start over some of the kids in my classes! It felt good to learn I could do the work. I didn't do the honors program, but I finished with a 3.89 GPA. I got a C in physics and tap dancing!

Your PACE program sounds wonderful. It might be good to address your question to your local or even federal legislators.I think that more "non-traditional" age people would take advantage of college if they could do it without quitting work. I am not familiar with anything like it in Indiana. More and more institutions are offering evening/weekend classes and teleclasses.

Any adult who wants to start college can check with local institutions to see what services they offer for non-traditional students. Call or write to the admissions department for a free catalog. They are fun to look at and will provide an idea of what is out there.

Congratulations, again Sandy. You are a great role model.

Name: Sharon Muse
Address: Escondido, CA
Question: Hi Molly:
My story is very similar to you. I was 16 when I married and 27 when I divorced with 3 children. I had gone to night school during the entire marriage on and off and finally received my high school diploma. I have worked my entire life to feed and provide for my kids and grandkids but now I want to learn the skills of the future. Like most people in their 50's I have had very little opportunity to learn on the computer. I don't feel like it is to late but I am afraid if I enroll in a online class or jr. college course for credit that I won't be able to keep up or make the necessary time commitment. Are there classes for people like me that put computer instruction in a very simple form so that we can gain confidence and really understand what we are doing? I am proud to say my children are all fine contributing citizens and I hope I can learn enough skills so that I never have to be dependent on them. I love to learn new things and the computer opens up a whole new world. Thanks for your story.
Answer: Hi Sharon:
Our stories are very similar. I am sure you are an inspiration to your children and I know they are as proud of you as you are of them.

Yes, there are lots of computer classes that begin at the beginning. Check with your local adult education program. Another source for beginning computer skills may be your local public library. You already know some things or you wouldn't have found this web site! You may also want to search the internet under non-traditional college and check out the many on-line classes.

I don't think that you should worry about keeping up. In many distance learning classes you proceed at your own pace. And, often you can do your lessons when you have the time...even if it is the middle of the night. Good Luck!

Name: Toni Cordell-Seiple
Address: Laubach Literacy, Syracuse, NY
Question: Molly:
Thank you for getting up every morning to face the days filled with challenge. You are an inspiration to me and I bet others as well. We need success stories to help convince the policy makers to continue to fund Adult Education and Literacy programs. Your remarks are excellent about the GED. I am an example of a person who graduated from High School reading at the fifth grade level. I would be afraid to take the GED test as I don't know that I could pass it. Now, please continue to do what you are doing. Stay the course and bring others along. I appreciate your helping others. Thank you again.
Answer: Hello Toni:
How exciting to hear from you. You are one of my heroes. I was serving on the Indiana Adult Literacy Coalition when you roller skated across America. I was very impressed both with your commitment to literacy and your athletic ability!! Also, I trained for a career in television and had hoped to do documentary work. I am a little bit envious of your former career as a camera person filming in exotic lands.

Now I am happily settled into this work and I do love to get up in the morning and come to work. I especially like the days I get a letter or call from a graduate saying that they could not or would not have earned their GED without our GED ON TV distance learning program. It is lovely to know that I am appreciated. Thank you for your gracious words.

Name: Laurie D. Fox
Address: Dayton, OH
Question: How do you get the cooperation of the public television stations for GED on TV?

How do you secure funding for a GED on TV program on a statewide level?

Who pays for the materials that your students use? The students, themselves, or are they in-kind donations?

Who pays for the mailing of these materials?

Are there some in-kind donations and some monetary donations. What types of organizations provide which types of funding?

I admire you for what you have done in your personal life and what you are doing to help others in similar situations. Your life is truly a blessing to others.

Answer: Dear Laurie:
Indiana is very fortunate to have the cooperation of all eight of our public television stations. They understand that they are providing an important service to Indiana adults.

Our GED ON TV funding comes through the Indiana Department of Education, Division of Adult Education from the legislature. In 1989 I went to some key legislators with the success of our pilot project and they saw that GED ON TV is a cost effective way of providing service to Hoosiers who couldn't complete high school. Over 80% of our students say they would not or could not attend classes.

Indiana students each pay $26 to enroll. This covers the three workbooks and a voucher that pays for the GED test at any Indiana testing site. So it is a good deal for the student (the GED costs ) and it gives them some investment in their success.

Our state funding pays for mailing, our eight "800" toll free telephone lines, staff to answer the help-line from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., and an enormous advertising campaign twice each year to recruit learners. The eight Indiana public television stations broadcast the programs at no charge to us, and Muncie Community Schools serves as our fiscal agent and provides a home for us in an area vocational school. We know that we are very fortunate to have such wonderful partnerships. We have had over 5,000 graduates since we expanded state-wide in 1990.

We also serve students who receive the GED ON TV signal from WPTD and WPTO in Dayton. You can reach me directly through our web site if you have other questions.

Thank you for you kind thoughts.

Name: Laurie Bargstedt
Address: Tribes Hill, NY
Question: I am an adult educator that would like to offer distance learning opportunities through our school. Can you suggest sources other than NYSED that would offer seed grants or supporting funds? Thank you.
Answer: Dear Laurie:
Our original pilot was funded by private dollars. We were blessed to have a wonderful person, Alan Garinger, in our community who had the vision of what GED ON TV could become in Indiana. He wrote the original grant that hired me in 1986. Three Indiana foundations shared our vision. Our funding now comes from the Indiana legislature. We are fortunate to have excellent partnerships with Hoosier public television stations and Muncie Community Schools.

Don't give up. In the early days I spent hours looking for funding sources at the public library. Now the Internet may offer some ideas.

We know we are serving adults who cannot or will not go into a classroom. There is a need for this service. Good luck.

Name: Gail
Question: What strategies would you use with a student whose reading/math levels are at the 6.0 grade level (based on TABE), but is possibly learning disabled. The student's disability is in memory retention, e.g., student continually forgets the steps involved when subtracting fractions & needing to borrow.
Answer: Dear Gail:
You have asked the $64,000 question! I don't know. Our GED ON TV learners are required to have a minimum of 8.5 reading and 7.5 math (749 on the T.A.B.E. A-level Survey Form) before enrolling to study from home. Distance learning is not for everyone and we don't want to set them up for failure. We recommend that students with low scores attend classes in their local area and we provide them with the phone number and the name of a person to contact.

You may wish to check out the National Center on Adult Literacy web site for the latest ideas about teaching adults with learning disabilities.

Another possibility would be the National Institute of Literacy site. I wish you and your student the best.

Name: Patsy Kestner
Address: Greensboro, NC
Question: I currently have 5 adults that I work with on a volunteer basis teaching reading and basic skills. We need books and resources.
Answer: Dear Patsy:
Here are some ideas. The North Carolina Laubach Association is at PO Box 4280, Asheboro, NC 27203, Phone 336.633.1828. I don't see a chapter in Greensboro. You can use that web site to reach The New Readers Press, a wonderful source of learning materials for adults and young adults with special learning needs at levels 0 through pre-GED. They have a free catalog.

And never discount your local public library. When I tutored a student in our county jail I used some materials from the library, some Laubach materials and the newspaper and magazines. I also bought him two children's Bibles, so he could read along while his cellmate read aloud. Call your library and ask if they have someone who specializes in their literacy collection.

Your adult new readers are lucky to have you. Congratulations!