Jorgenson helps students have faith in selves

EAGLE GROVE – Your company has relocated. You can’t find another job.

For some people, part of the problem could be lack of a high school education.

Marilyn Jorgenson, a former fifth-grade teacher, now helps people who have a desire for a high school equivalency diploma, to get their additional education. She serves as Wright County’s General Educational Development instructor, a positions she has held for the past 22 years.

“The GED program began after World War II to help soldiers who had gone to help with the war effort before they graduated from high school, to complete their educations,” she said. “Now we help people with for a variety of reasons for not completing their high school educations.”

The program is offered under the auspices of the Iowa Central Community College Adult Basic Education Department.

Every Thursday, a GED class is held at the Emerson Building from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

“We might have as few as one student to as many as eleven on any evening,” said Jorgenson. “Each student takes a preliminary test when they first enroll in the program. They are tested in math and reading to determine their level of proficiency.”

Then the education begins, each student working at his/her own pace.

As students progress, they are taught five different parts for testing: writing, social studies, science, mathematics and reading.

Jorgenson said the number of students who enroll is greater than the number of students who actually graduate from the program.

“Some students aren’t ready to make the commitment to do what it takes to complete their GED requirements,” she said. “For others, the time isn’t right in their families or with their work schedules.”

She said that more than 60 students have graduated from the program since she became its instructor.

Tina Gamache, of Eagle Grove, is one of Jorgenson’s most recent graduates, completing the GED program in the summer of 2010.

“Marilyn had so much faith in me and what I could do,” she said. “That really helped. She opened the doors for me and I was able to move quickly through the program and the testing.”

Gamache has since enrolled in and completed her associate of arts degree at Iowa Central Community College in criminal justice. She is now working toward her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Buena Vista University’s Fort Dodge campus.

“I took a number of photography classes while in Iowa Central,” she said, “And I have opened a photography studio here in Eagle Grove.”

When Jorgenson believes testing when the time is right for individual students, she begins with some preliminary tests that are “much harder” than what the GED test will be in the student’s future.

“Students are tested in the five separate tests,” she said. “They cannot be taken all at one time. One test could take up to two hours to complete. It would be just too difficult to take all of them at the same time.”

Tests are arranged by appointment and are taken at Iowa Central Community College campuses of either Webster City or Fort Dodge.

GED students range in age from 17 to older than 70.

“My first GED graduate twenty plus years ago was a man who was 72,” Jorgenson said. “It was just something that he wanted to accomplish.”

Reasons for completing GED graduation requirements can be as varied as self-satisfaction to being able to enroll in higher education courses in the future.

In her more than two dozen years at the program’s instructor, students have attended her classes from all of the communities in Wright County.

“It takes dedication and a willingness to learn to finish the necessary course studies,” Jorgenson said, “But students are pleased when they are successful and have improved futures because of what they have been able to do here.”