Adult Education News

A Change of Plans Leads to Long Awaited Accomplishment

COVID-19 has disrupted plans and dreams for persons all around the world. Some will remember this period of time with great disdain while others will rise from their challenges with grace and inspiration. Patrice Echols is one of the graceful inspirational ones.

As a teenager education was not important to Patrice, getting by was. On her own at seventeen, working two jobs to pay bills and shortly thereafter caring for her own children left her little choice except to put one foot in front of the other to take the best care she could of herself and her family.

“I always thought of getting my GED® but I had to choose, school or work and kids, so I kept putting it off”, Patrice explained.

Just prior to the COVID pandemic, Patrice was about to complete a very important goal. Through hard work and discipline, she had saved money that she planned to put toward buying a house. But, COVID took her job and the money had to be used to support what unemployment didn’t take care of. If anyone had reason to be angry at the situation, Patrice should.

Maybe it is her determination and grit or a general positive outlook on life, whatever it is, Patrice used it to find other goals to meet even during a pandemic. She enrolled at Tomlison Learning Center and began to work toward her high school equivalency credential (GED). 

Working with instructor, Holly Heintz, Patrice used a program called FastForward to study at her own pace. A pre-test indicated what she needed to work on. Online content helped prepare her for the GED test and a practice exam ensured she was ready to take the test and pass!  “This individualized learning plan, the flexibility to work at one’s own pace and the management system that lets the instructor see what the student is working on and how they are progressing are some of the attributes of FastForward that we really appreciate,” Holly commented.

In true Patrice fashion, there was no stopping her once she got her GED. Now she is enrolled in college classes and plans to pursue a degree in accounting.

“COVID hurt my current goals but benefitted my future goals”, she said. The money she had saved for a house helped support her during unemployment and the time away from work allowed her to work toward other goals.

Patrice says she wants to influence and inspire others who may not have completed high school coursework within their teen years. And, in true Patrice fashion, she is doing just that. Her sister is now enrolled in a credit recovery program at Tomlison and Patrice supports and mentors her.

Join us in congratulating Patrice Echols, a 2021 GED graduate and the staff of Tomlinson Learning Center as well as Pinellas County Schools Adult Education division. Thank you for allowing KET and FastForward to be part of your success.