Friday, December 26, 2014

TOP STORY >> Living WAGE: Job skills for adults

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville Adult Education Center is where adults can better their lives and open the door to more job opportunities.

Located near the railroad overpass on 104 S. First St., the center is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Evening classes are offered from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

The center has four instructors and classes to help adult students obtain WAGE certificates and Microsoft Suite certifications. It also offers General Educational Development classes to prepare for the GED test and English as a second language classes.

The Jacksonville center is part of the Arkansas Department of Career Education and the Pulaski County Special School District’s Adult Education-Workforce Alliance for Growth in the Economy program.

“People think the adult education center is for college or vocational school. It is for people getting their GED and computer literacy skills for the workplace,” Jacksonville center instructor Kathy Middlebrooks said.


The Jacksonville center can help students prepare for the GED test.

Middlebrooks explained that students first take the Test of Adult Basic Education to determine what areas they need to study.

Then students take the GED Ready, a practice test for the GED that costs $24. The GED test costs $16 and is subsidized by the state. It is given at the Adult Education Center at 4300 Haywood St. in North Little Rock.

A graduation is held in the spring for students who pass the GED test. The state issues them an Arkansas High School diploma.

Middlebrooks said some students are apprehensive about the new GED test, which is taken on a computer.

“Being on the computer, you get same-day results. No more waiting for weeks or months to find out if you passed,” Middlebrooks said.

The GED test is aligned with the new high school standards.

“It really measures your abilities compared to a high school student,” Middlebrooks said.


Jade Carpenter, 18, of Sherwood is trying to get her GED. She wants to go to the Arts Institute in Nashville and be a tattoo artist.

Carpenter dropped out of school this year and is living with her aunt in Sherwood. She had the opportunity to go back to high school but chose to get her GED instead.

“I was really immature. There was way too much drama at Vilonia High School. I want to get my GED so I can prove my parents wrong. They didn’t believe in me. I was kicked out of my home after turning 18. My parents said that I would be a dropout, pregnant and wouldn’t amount to anything,” Carpenter said.

Angelia Hamilton, 50, of Little Rock needs a GED for a job. She dropped out of North Pulaski High School in the 11th grade because her mom gave her a choice; either enter the workforce and earn money or continue to go to school in special-education classes.

Hamilton said she was 16 when she was hired as a bookbinder at a factory, making $300 a week. “(Now) when I was looking for work, (employers) would ask if I had a GED or high school diploma, but then they would not give a second chance,” Hamilton said.


The Arkansas Department of Career Education has partnered with Microsoft Information Technology Academy for students to earn certificates in advanced levels of proficiency in PowerPoint, Word, Excel and Outlook computer programs. The training is offered at no charge.

Theresa Duke of Jacksonville, who is unemployed, is working on getting certified in Microsoft Suite. She is updating her skills in Microsoft Suite 2010 because her former employer was using Microsoft 2007 and recently upgraded to Microsoft 2013.

“The program is great. I’ve found this beneficial, and I’ve learned a lot. They’ve been easy to work with. I’m able to work at my own pace,” Duke said.


The WAGE program offers free job skills training and certificates in industrial, customer service, banking, employability and office technology. Many businesses partnered with the WAGE program recognize the WAGE job training certificates.

The WAGE center has a career coach to help people with their resumes. The center teaches them how to fill out job applications, interviewing skills and how to apply for college aid. A nutritionist comes in on Tuesdays to teach them about healthy eating tips.

For more information, or to enroll, call 501-985-3560.