When Lynn Foley, an instructor with Rhode Island Regional Adult Learning (RIRAL) first encountered Josh Renaud, she knew he was not her typical adult learner. He was a former honor student and once enrolled in AP classes. He is motivated, knows how to set goals, accomplish objectives and work toward next steps consistently. She immediately knew he needed support that looked a little different than most. Josh is what is known as a high-school stop-out, by definition, someone who temporarily withdraws from enrollment. As a young person, Josh experienced challenges that caused him to leave high school prior to graduation.
“Because he lacked confidence, he kept asking about classes. I believed he did not necessarily need formal, traditional adult education classes and so thought about a new pilot program through Rhode Island PBS that we had been given access to called FastForward. This online learning program would allow him to move along at his own pace, gain confidence, and prepare for his GED exam quickly. His initial placement scores were above and beyond average. I knew he could benefit from FastForward so I enrolled him in a virtual seat”, she explained.
FastForward is a complete online learning system that contains everything learners need to prepare for high school equivalency credential tests. Produced by Kentucky Educational Television (KET) Adult Education division, the system builds an individual study plan after learners take a pretest. Learners advance through the system at their own pace and finally take a practice GED® exam to determine their readiness. Rhode Island PBS recently partnered with KET to allow adult learning programs in the state to pilot FastForward with some learners.
“I was hesitant to begin the process since I had been out of school for seven years,” Josh said. But during those seven years, Josh had not sat idly by. He lived on his own in another state for a short period and worked as a grocery cashier. He moved back to Woonsocket and worked for a time at a nursing home. “I learned there that part of what I am passionate about is helping people but was also intrigued by how businesses ran,” Josh said.
Realizing he wanted to work in business management, Josh changed career paths and was quickly promoted at Cumberland Farms. When a friend encouraged him to apply at Ocean State Job Lot, the trajectory of his upward mobility continued and Josh worked in customer support, moved to a store support role and then, became a HR coordinator. He decided for sure he wanted to pursue a career path that would allow him to organize, analyze and most importantly, help others. He could see those prerequisites coming into focus in the human resources field. Along the way, Josh reflected on the fact that he had not achieved his high school equivalency diploma and considered this would likely be a set-back for his dreams.
Once Josh met Lynn and got enrolled in FastForward, he found the system’s study plan based on his pretest, let him know exactly where he needed to focus his attention. “FastForward was easy to use. Everything I needed was there. The study plan was so helpful and it really put the “fast” in FastForward for me,” Josh said.
Lynn and Josh continued communications using Google classroom to keep momentum. “I set up a Google classroom so I could send encouraging motivational messages and offer him some online support since he was not present for in-person classes. FastForward also allowed me to see what Josh was working on and how much time he was spending on each subject. It was great,” Lynn explained. “I also knew Josh aspired for a college degree so I wanted to make sure he had a connection to a support person who could help with the FAFSA and other steps along the way. Each time I suggested anything toward a next step to Josh, he immediately completed it. He’s going to go far,” she concluded.
Josh Renaud passed his GED credential exam in February 2021. He is now enrolled at the Community College of Rhode Island where he plans to study business administration with a concentration in management. Eventually Josh hopes to work as a human resources analyst. He says through his experiences he has seen how the process of hiring happens, how the stores operate and eventually, he hopes to work at helping execute programs for recruitment, development and retention of staff members.
Join KET in congratulating Josh Renaud, Lynn Foley, Rhode Island Regional Adult Learning and Rhode Island PBS. We are so proud of Josh and everyone involved who brought the opportunity to use FastForward to help him reach his goals.