Graduates: Mandy VanDerKamp of Nebraska City didn’t want to be outdone by her daughter, Abby. Abby is graduating next spring from Nebraska City High School. Mandy was able to complete her GED® in March of 2019. She already has a job at Honeywell and is working toward her OSHA safety certification. Now since she has achieved her goal of attaining a high school diploma, she said she can now achieve job promotions and a newly-found confidence in her career. Congratulations, Mandy!
Jingle Bell Ride: Falls City held its Annual Jingle Bell Ride on Sunday, Nov. 17. It’s an opportunity for local civic groups and individuals to collect toys for children during the holidays. Area volunteer coordinator Jodi Freeman took this opportunity to ride her own horse and spread the word about SCC’s Adult Education Program. She was able to share information about our many resources in a very untraditional, fun way! Jodi took “community outreach” to a whole new level!
Scholarship: Patty Swanson, ABE teacher in Wahoo, won a scholarship to attend the Coalition on Adult Basic Education conference in Baltimore, Maryland, next April. She was one of three teachers from across the state selected by the Nebraska Adult Education department. Congratulations, Patty!
Retirement: Rosi Decker first started working in Adult Education in 1991 as a work study student. She came back five years later as a part-time employee, then as a full-time employee in 1997. She has worked in SCC’s Adult Education program for 23 years. During her time, she enjoyed talking to GED® students and encouraging them through the whole process. From orientation, to registration, to graduation. She was especially excited when students completed their exams.
“The Adult Education office has been part of my family for 23 years,” she said. “Everyone is dedicated to the success of our students.”
We will miss Rosi, but wish her all the best in retirement!
Cheyanna Jacobe and Tristin Zoubek are siblings from Hebron. They were both able to earn their GED® degrees from the Learning Center at Hebron with Gaylen Cox as their instructor. The siblings both had many obstacles, but were able to overcome them in order to earn their diplomas.
“As a mother of two, and soon to be three, I was tired of working 50 plus hours at dead-end jobs,” Cheyanna said. “I realized getting my GED® diploma would provide me with many more opportunities, so I buckled down and got it. Now I plan on furthering my education in business accounting and criminal justice.”
Tristin realized that dropping out of high school wasn’t what the right decision after all.
“After I dropped out of high school, my life was so great – or so I thought,” he remembered. “After a few years, I realized it was a mistake. I was going nowhere, working dead-end jobs, wishing I could learn something new. With GED® opportunities in my area, I took a chance, studied hard and eventually succeeded in getting my diploma. Now I’m planning on furthering my education.”
Steve and Stephanie Hackett met as freshmen at Iowa State University, and married while in college. Steve left college for a job just 15 credits shy of his graduation requirements.
“It took me 18 years to finish my BA and 18 months to finish my MA,” he said.
When he finished, Stephanie went back and both eventually became UNL graduates. They are also lifelong learners who are always taking classes. Their connection to Southeast Community College includes several years of weekly trips to Beatrice for pottery classes.
Both retired in 2016 from the United States Postal Service. They thought it would be fun to find a volunteer work together that would take them outside of their comfort zone. They walked into the Learning Center in Nebraska City and asked about volunteering in the Adult Ed program.
“We asked about both the GED and the ESL programs, whichever one needed help,” Steve said. They started volunteering last fall.
The Hacketts help out in a variety of different ways. When new students enroll, they help with the paperwork and the initial interview. They help get students up and running on the distance learning software.
“Our responsibility is to take the workload off the instructor’s shoulders,” Steve said. “Anything we can do, we try to do.” “If the instructor were on her own, she’d be pulled in too many different directions to be effective,” Stephanie added.
“They are amazing people and happy to help in any way,” said Michelle Hogue, SCC Adult Education instructor in Nebraska City. “I look forward to seeing them every week! The students love them and feel so comfortable asking them for help.”
Motivating the students to keep up their studies is part of the job, Stephanie said. “We tell the students how important education is for them.”
Stephanie is surprised how often a friend or acquaintance, upon hearing about her new volunteer project, has told her about a friend or family member who went back for a GED® certificate after being out of school for many years.
The Hacketts’ plans for the summer include attending four weddings. One of the brides is their daughter, and another is Steve’s 84-year-old aunt.
They’ll also be checking on the need for volunteers for next year’s class. “It’s fulfilling,” Stephanie said.
Tanya Bokma is the new ESL Program Assistant in the Adult Education program. Originally from Montana, she ended up in Nebraska because of her husband’s military career.
“Upon moving here, I took a job with SCC as a teacher’s assistant with the Family Literacy Program at West Lincoln Elementary,” she said. “The following year, I was the lead teacher for the same program. Four years later, I became the ESL Program Assistant. I miss the teaching aspect of my job, but enjoy the other challenges this new position offers.”
Bokma has taught in schools all over the United States and the Republic of Korea. She enjoys the opportunity to teach at all levels; from kindergarten students, to adults in GED® programs and ESL programs.
“I have enjoyed many travel opportunities all over the world and love interacting with and learning from the various cultures,” Bokma said. “Being able to bring my travel experiences and love of learning into my job allows me to connect with the ESL students on a more personal level. I very much enjoy working with the ESL population we serve and look forward to many more years to come.”
Adult Education Director Diane Vesely-Robb and Assistant Director Susan Kash-Brown attended the Commission on Adult Basic Education Conference earlier this month in New Orleans, Louisiana. They were able to attend sessions about English as a Second Language, Workforce Development and much more. They were also able to hear some national speakers while they collaborated with colleagues from around the country. More than 2,000 attendees came out to the event.
Yiwen (Zoe) Zhou is from China and visited her cousin in Beatrice this past fall. She came to SCC and started at ESL level four. After working hard for 60 hours, she made it to level eight in a three-month period. She enjoyed her three months in Nebraska. Now she starts planning for her future as she moves back to China to get married. She is excited to show off her new English language skills!
Sarah North is this quarter’s Lincoln Volunteer Spotlight. Sarah volunteered with Mike Ortiz’ GED class for more than two years. She loves getting to know the GED students and helping with math concepts.
“Assisting with the GED program keeps me continually learning,” she said. “It makes me think about different approaches in teaching math concepts.”
Sarah dropped out of high school as a senior, but then graduated the following summer. She then graduated from University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a mechanical engineer. She relates well with students and wants them to know that completing their GED will create many opportunities.
“Sarah is well-respected by our students, who express their appreciation for her help over the course of her tenure,” said Mike Ortiz, GED instructor. “Her demeanor and respect for the students allows her to interact with them as they grow academically. She helped many students obtain their GED credentials. Her smile is always welcome in class.”
Thank you Sarah for being an outstanding volunteer!
Burma is an ethnically diverse Southeast Asian nation bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand, which was half-hidden for decades. “The Land of Pagodas” is home to traditional practices, bustling markets, numerous parks and lakes and natural beauty. Burma, however, remains one of the poorest countries in Asia. Discover this unique, exotic and troubled place with Susan Kash-Brown as she details her month-long excursion.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 6:30-8 p.m. $19, Lincoln, CEC, room 302. Keyword: People.
For the past two years, Dottie and Al Davis volunteer weekly in the ESL program at Southeast Community College’s downtown campus. Dottie is a former teacher and Al is a former Nebraska state senator. They both feel their calling is to serve others.
“I find volunteering very rewarding, I feel like I can make a difference,” Dottie said.
“It gives you a whole new perspective on the challenges that individuals encounter,” Al added.
Susan Johnston is an ESL teacher and said they are both very committed and enthusiastic volunteers.
“They are warm and friendly and genuinely interested in talking with the students,” Johnston said. “I am so pleased to have them in the classroom.”
Dottie grew up in Lincoln and graduated with a teaching degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She worked for many years with mentally challenged adults. She also is an animal advocate.
Al grew up on a ranch near Hyannis, and graduated from Denver University. He was a former state senator, representing the 43rd District in Nebraska.
Liz Eckhoff was an educator with the Beatrice Public School District for 25 years, in the special education resource area. Once she retired, she didn’t want to leave teaching behind. She now works with Adult Education students at Southeast Community College.
“It has been an interesting and challenging experience,” she said. “I enjoy working with adult students and helping them navigate their way through the process of achieving their educational goals.”
Eckhoff says when teaching students, she likes to be encouraging and positive, since many of the students can be apprehensive. Once they realize they’re not being judged, they relax and are able to work together productively.
“I try to provide a stress-free environment, and convey a partnership of working together, adult to adult, to achieve a common goal,” she said. “I rarely lean over them or stand in front of them to teach, I sit next to them. There is a difference. I try to make each student feel successful, even if the successes are small.”
Liz has been married to her husband, Allen, for 45 years. They have two children and five grandchildren. Together they owned the Plaza Gift Gallery, a Hallmark and gift store in Beatrice, for 27 years. Now they travel abroad and around the United States together.