Just recently I attended a very special event in the life of Helping Up Mission. We partner with South Baltimore Learning Center to help our Spiritual Recovery Program members obtain their high school diplomas. Historically, once leaving school, adults could earn high school diplomas by sitting for a series of examinations in the General Education Development (GED) program. A student signs up to take five tests for a total of just over 7 hours during two weekends to earn his diploma. The tests cover material in Language Arts–Reading, Language Arts–Writing, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies.
But as far back as 1978, the State of Maryland also began to offer an alternative program for adults to achieve their high school diplomas. While not as well known, the External Diploma Program (EDP) has created a whole new pathway to high school diplomas. EDP is for “mature” adults who have acquired academic skills through life and work experiences and can demonstrate those skills in an applied assessment process. The subjects are essentially the same as the GED testing: Reading Self Awareness; Writing Social Awareness, Mathematics Aesthetic Awareness, Oral Communication Consumer Awareness and Critical Thinking Scientific Awareness. Instead of sitting for GED tests lasting an hour and a half each, EDP requires demonstration of sixty-five generalized skills and one vocational skill with each student working at his own pace.
So, in the Tremont Grand Conference Center, the South Baltimore Learning Center Summer 2009 Learner Recognition Event included its semi-annual graduation. Thirty-one adult students received the high school diplomas they earned through either GED or EDP. The breakdown was seven GED’s and twenty-four EDP’s – with fifteen of those diplomas (two GED and thirteen EDP) coming from men at Helping Up Mission!
I felt like a proud papa as I watched men, whom I know had worked so hard to reach this day, walk in cap and gown to receive their Maryland High School diploma. At Helping Up Mission, we are committed to helping men change their lives by getting clean from drugs and alcohol and by developing a spiritual relationship with God. But for him reintegrate back into society, we also need to help him go back to work and begin taking responsibility for himself. For many, a high school diploma is the critical first step.
Thank you South Baltimore Learning Center, Dr Jeanette and all the Helping Up Mission tutors who have helped make some dreams come true this past year. And the best is yet to come.
Pastor Gary Byers
Spiritual Life Director