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Caribbean students earn library’s diploma equivalent

Student speaker Brittney Small talks to fellow graduates at the ceremony. Small attended nightly classes at the Flatbush Adult Learning Center to complete her High School Equivalency requirements.
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The Brooklyn Public Library graduated about 20 adult students in their first graduation ceremony at Central Library on June 28. The library’s inaugural commencement for their High School Equivalency (HSE) program, celebrated the students for completing coursework to take the state’s Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC), which replaced what was commonly known as General Educational Development (GED).

About 49 students were part of the graduating class, even though several were unable to show up, all of the students expressed thankfulness for the program’s existence, said the program coordinator.

“They are very grateful for the program because it’s free to come in. We have very professional instructors who coach the students on all types of reading levels and they always talk about how encouraging it is,” said Nikeisha Smothers.

She adds that the preparative sessions also offers a lot of assistance based on individual needs.

“The class in general, and covers everything, and our instructors can find out what is needed for each student and take the time out of each day teach math, or reading with someone struggling in that area and have a one on one,” said Smothers.

The students hailed from many corners of the world, mostly from the Caribbean. Students were from Grenada, Belize, Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, and others from Yemen, Pakistan, Tibet, and Kenya.

The center introduced the program last November in all of their adult learning center branches; New Lots, Eastern Parkway, Central, Bedford, and Flatbush libraries. During library hours potential students can come in to enroll and participate in the nine-hour assessment, which tests their test-taking efficiency and knowledge in various subjects, to prepare for taking the TASC exam.

The program was created to help the pathway to high school equivalency for people looking to move upwards in their career field, and for others to find work requiring those skills.

Smothers says the center is trying to implement more community-oriented programs that will propel New Yorkers in general, to get a step closer to achieving their goals and dreams.

“Our goal is to help the community. We have over 20,000 immigrants in Brooklyn who do not have a high school equivalent diploma and there are others who don’t know how to read, but we have a place where they can come and receive a free service and anything they need,” she said.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.
Updated 2:48 pm, July 20, 2018
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