Bilingual GED course now available on Vashon

Looking to fulfill a need they saw in the community, the Vashon Social Services Network and Vashon Household have put together a General Educational Development (GED) program that will be offered free to Vashon residents starting this week at the Vashon Senior Center.

Funding for the program comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the Orientation, Assistance, Support & Information Station (OASIS) that was set up by the Vashon Social Services Network last June.

“We have access to the funds for needs that we see in the community,” said Vashon Household director Chris Szala, “and this was identified as important.”

GED programs consist of four modules: math, language arts, social studies and science. Classes will be taught in person, but practice tests will be available online. Formal testing is the only part of the program that will have to be completed off-island and is therefore not covered by the OASIS funding.

“We’re hoping that we’ll be able to find sponsors for the students down the road, and the goal is for us to be licensed for testing in the future,” Szala said. Otherwise the program is free, including the online practice tests.

The math module will kick off the program, as that is the one subject they have a teacher lined up for. Kelsey Hunt will get the ball rolling this Saturday, with the half dozen or so students that have already signed up. One of the students will also be translating the class for several Hispanic students.

Szala says that they do not have anyone else set to teach the rest of the subjects yet, and they’d love to have islanders with experience teaching GED programs volunteer.

“We have a lot of talent on the island, it’s great to be able to share that and meet people’s needs,” he said.

If there is enough interest, further sessions will be added  as needed, and they’d like to keep the class size limited to about eight students per session.

“We feel like that’s optimal so that we know people are going to get what they need,” Szala explained.

The new program’s inaugural session is already at capacity thanks in large part to Hilary Emmer, who Szala said was instrumental in getting the word out to the community.

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