Thursday, July 26, 2012

GED Plus Program Spotlight: Jason

The Red Hook Community Justice Center has hosted an on-site GED program since its founding in 2000. We recognize the strong link between justice system involvement and a lack of educational opportunities, and are able to provide this opportunity to youth, both court-involved and not, thanks to a partnership with the NYC Department of Education, and to the contributions of the members of the New York Juvenile Justice Corps, an AmeriCorps service program that seeks to prevent young people in New York City from becoming enmeshed in the criminal justice system.
Josh Pacheco, NY Juvenile Justice Corps GED Teaching Assistant with the Justice Center's onsite GED classroom's wall of diplomas
Some of our best success stories this year have been due to the relationships formed between Juvenile Justice Corps members and the young people they work with. Although academically very strong, Jason, one of our GED students, was having great difficulty expressing himself in writing. Writing is not only a component on the GED test, but also a major component in the portfolio requirement. Past attempts to reach Jason had failed, and had led to alienation and spotty attendance. It seemed that we could not effectively communicate with him, and left unchecked, this student was headed for a discharge due to frequent absences.
However, Jason was able to successfully work one-on-one with a member of the Juvenile Justice Corps. In a short period of time, the member was able to establish communication with Jason, and he became engaged and eager to reach his goal of attaining his GED. He became invested in his work and enjoyed discussing everything from music to math and history. They began to  build a sense of trust between them, and Jason started to drop his defenses and ease more into his writing. He began formulating ideas for essays and completed the writing components for the required portfolio, which included a personal statement and an academic research paper. Jason soon qualified to take his GED exam, which resulted in a diploma in March. He continues to be in close contact with the Corps member that he worked with previously, and has plans to pursue a college degree. Last month, Jason walked across the stage for the GED Plus graduation at Hunter College with his family, Juvenile Justice Corps members, and Justice Center staff in attendance to cheer him on.

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