Taking the GED can be arduous. It’s long (more than seven hours), and the test taker must be adept in every high school subject – reading, writing, science, math and social studies.
Yet for the students in the Myers Education Center, the taking of the GED test was a breeze. All of the students who took it in January passed on their first try.
The students credit their GED Teacher Michelle Maddalla who, as Dan Baisley put it, “helped us with our weaknesses.” Dr. Hunziker, principal for Special Programs at the Myers Center, said: “Ms. Maddalla not only teaches the content but also works with the students using a growth mindset. Ms. Maddalla creates a classroom environment that requires student participation, effort, self-monitoring, and self-worth. It is through this environment that she is able to change the way students think about themselves and their abilities, thus leading to student engagement and success.”
“She would sit down with us and take as much time as we needed,” said Dan, who is from Mechanicville. “My weakness was math. But I blew right through that part of the test.”
Dan, as well as Christine Filicoski of Stillwater, Crystal Kron of Mechanicville, and Tanya Fuller of Saratoga Springs, said that other factors contributed to their success too, such as help from Skidmore College interns like Amanda Ceres, a social work/English major who minors in education, who drilled them on math fluency. In addition, the students are grateful for the nurturing atmosphere at the Myers Education Center.
“Everyone is so nice here,” said Christine who struggled with self-injury and now sees a future as a counselor. “Before when I was in school, I wasn’t helped. The help they gave me didn’t work. Not everyone is the same. The help the counselors want to give can’t be the same.”
Crystal agreed. She suffered what she called “really bad anxiety.” Entering a school with hundreds of students each day made it worse. Not surprisingly, she was continually failing classes. The Myers Education Center, with its small class size, was the cure.
“I like it here a lot,” said Crystal. “The school is also helping me find a job. I’m getting help with my resume.”
The job help she refers to is a bonus for the Myers GED students. Each one is eligible to take a Career and Technical Education class. Crystal is taking the Service Level Hospitality and Human Service. As part of that class, she works in housekeeping at the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs.
Dan is taking welding. He will likely go to Hudson Valley Community College in the fall. He then hopes to further his education at Modern Welding School.
Christine wants to go for a Ph.D. in counseling.
“I really want to work with teens and maybe adults who have serious mental illness,” she said. “I don’t think I could do it if it wasn’t for BOCES. Being here is like being a part of one big family.”
Dan nodded and added, “Nothing worked for me in school. I was getting into fights all the time. When my counselor suggested BOCES, I thought why not, I’ll give it a try. I’m glad I did. This school is way better than I expected because everyone gets along. It’s a positive environment.”