After getting grocery stores to hand out fliers to shoppers at Thanksgiving and Christmas, Ogeechee Technical College has a larger outreach planned for January to promote its adult education programs, which include more than just GED classes.
“We have a whole initiative planned for the month of January, but we did kind of like a mini-push during Thanksgiving and Christmas where we’re just getting the information out about the adult education and adult literacy programs at Ogeechee Tech,” said OTC Dean for Adult Education Samantha Smith.
As the January campaign will emphasize, classes that can prepare students for General Educational Development tests are just one aspect of the adult education program. Ogeechee Tech also offers adult literacy instruction for people who don’t plan to take the tests, as well as workforce readiness classes and help for students transitioning from adult education to for-credit college classes.
But the recently distributed flier promotes the GED program specifically. One side says, “Give yourself the gift of opportunity. Get your GED.” The GED classes are free, and the flier suggests calling (912) 871-1721 to enroll for classes beginning in January. It also gives the web address www.ogeecheetech.edu/GED.
Stores in all three counties of Ogeechee Tech’s service area, Bulloch, Evans and Screven, had cashiers and baggers offer the fliers to shoppers, or put them in their bags at checkout, a few days before Thanksgiving and again before Christmas.
In all, 20,000 or more fliers were given out, said OTC Vice President for Economic Development Jan Moore.
The participating stores in Statesboro were Bi-Lo, the Food World on Northside Drive, and Ellis Meats. Also in Bulloch County, Ken’s IGA in Brooklet and Lanier’s IGA in Portal participated. In Screven County, the Bi-Lo in Sylvania distributed the fliers, while in Evans County, Food Fresh in Claxton was the participating store.
“If somebody who needs a GED may not be doing the shopping, their grandma or their brother or their aunt will be,” Moore said. “When people call in and ask what they need to do about starting class, we always ask, how did you hear about us? They often say, ‘Well, my grandma told me’ or ‘My sister told me.’”
GED plus 2 degrees
Bucky Martin, store manager of the Sylvania Bi-Lo, had a special motivation for helping distribute the fliers. After leaving high school without graduating, he attained a GED diploma and went on to attain a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree.
“It’s truly made a difference in his life, and he said, like, ‘Anything we can do to help and get the word out there will be great,’” Moore said.
Smith forwarded a quote from Martin.
"People that have dreams sometimes give up,” said the Sylvania store manager. "This is a good avenue to take care of unfinished business. They can get back on the right track by completing their GED."
At Ken’s IGA in Brooklet, one employee who helped, Brianna Fulmer, 17, is enrolled in OTC adult education classes now. After leaving Southeast Bulloch High School in 11th grade, she is studying for her GED.
“We’ve had several employees to get their GED and one in the process of getting their GED,” said store manager Jason NeSmith.
Adding a GED site
Ogeechee Technical College has been offering GED classes at one location in each of its counties. In Bulloch County, the classes are taught on the college’s main campus, on U.S. Highway 301 south of Statesboro. The other locations are OTC’s Screven County Workforce Development Center on Community Drive in Sylvania and the college’s Evans County Technical Education Complex on Cedar Avenue in Hagan.
Beginning in late January, the classes should be offered again at another Bulloch County site, Statesboro Regional Library, after the college and library recently re-established a partnership, Smith said.
Currently, almost 250 adults take the classes in the three counties, she said. But she would like to reach more, and not just with information about the GED and literacy classes. That’s the purpose of what she calls the January Slam.
“We’ll be participating in a lot of community events, getting the word out about not just the GED but about adult literacy across the board,” Smith said.
She will speak to various groups, and some events may be held at the Natural Resources Building on the OTC campus, she said. The college’s adult education staff hopes to have a presence in Martin Luther King Jr. Day parades in all three counties, and to do outreach about its programs through churches each Sunday.
“Adult education also includes adult literacy, and that’s for individuals who just want to brush up on their reading skills, or maybe they want to know how to master new computer programs and they’re having a hard time understanding the language behind it,” Smith said.
Similarly, adult education programs can help employees be better ready for changes in the workplace, she said.
Ogeechee Tech also offers instruction for people preparing to take the Accuplacer and Compass college placement tests.
With a transition specialist on staff, the college provides other transition services, such as help with admissions and financial aid procedures.
“For those students who complete the GED requirements, we actually work with them and assist them in moving over into the credit courses for becoming full-time students at the college,” Smith said.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.