The Lexington Two-Four Adult Education Program was named the best in the state in 2015-16.
Christy Henderson, the program’s director, is quick to point out that her team won the South Carolina Association of Adult and Community Educators’ award for a “Medium” sized program. But it is a big deal regardless of size.
The distinction is presented to the program with the highest number of high school credentials awarded. The Lexington Two-Four program has a credential rate of 83 percent.
While the numbers are impressive, it’s not the focus. Our motto is “save one at a time,” said Henderson.
She said her staff- that includes Janet Russ- the statewide adult ed “Part-time Teacher-of-the-Year” is dedicated.
“We are a family and we all feel the same commitment to educating anyone who comes to us,” said Henderson.
Lexington Two-Four’s program is based at Pair Education Center in West Columbia, but it has classrooms in South Congaree and Swansea, where Shannon Maddox, a former principal is coordinator. The program is for students not currently enrolled in traditional high school who want to work to get a diploma or a GED. There is a small fee to enroll, but Henderson said some scholarship funding has recently become available for qualified applicants.
The students in adult ed are those who dropped out of high school for many different reasons, said Henderson.
“The students here may have had to leave school to go to work and support a family. But they want to come back.”
She said adult ed allows those students to get valuable skills needed to increase their chance for a better job. Many want to enroll in higher education, and then take classes at Midlands Technical College. Henderson said getting people producing more income is a good thing for the whole community.
“We want them to be able to make a livable wage,” she said.
“We have a student who has three jobs,” said Henderson. “We want him to be able to make enough to live.”
Aside from a diploma, upgrading skills may also include completing the state-standard WorkKeys training. The Lexington Two-Four program also won a state award for the number of Vocational Rehabilitation WorkKeys-qualified students it produces.
Aside from finishing high school, adult ed students move forward.
Henderson described a student who came in as a high-school drop out without a positive track. He worked hard to get his degree. He eventually became a Emergency Medical Technician.
She also said there is training for jobs, like welding, that become available with the completion of high school.
Regardless of the level of accomplishment, Henderson said she and her staff are thankful for every success story. She said she feels called to the profession and each person at the school understand that embarrassing trust is the key to completing the task.
Henderson said it sometimes takes a lot of patience. She said one student came to Pair and could not speak English when he started the program. It took him 10 years, but he finished. A “Perseverance” award was created for him, and presented to him upon graduation last year.