Program Presents Second Probability To Excessive Faculty, Albuquerque Journal

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Editor’s note: Today the journal continues “The Good News File”, a series of uplifting stories in collaboration with KOAT-TV and KKOB Radio. The journal publishes “Good News” on the first Friday of the month, KOAT-TV every second Friday and KKOB every third Friday.

It is said there is no life change, but Albuquerque librarians hope to give some people a chance to do it again.

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The Albuquerque Bernalillo County’s library system has partnered with the New Mexico State Library to help school dropouts earn degrees. Career Online High School is available through public library systems across the country and will be rolled out in Albuquerque this January during the pandemic. Unlike some other ways to earn the missing piece of paper that says “I have my degree,” this program allows students to complete all of their coursework online, and costs are covered by a scholarship. Students also earn an actual diploma rather than a GED certificate.

For Tammy Leyba-Ortega, 43, the trouble started almost immediately when she started her freshman at Albuquerque High School.

“I gave up school, got into an argument, wasn’t paying attention in class,” she said. “I was with the wrong people.”

Tammy Leyba-Ortega, who lives in Albuquerque, is a high school student on track to graduate from Career Online High School. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Albuquerque Journal)

Leyba-Ortega said her parents were frustrated with their actions, had enough and withdrew them from school after just three months. Leyba-Ortega said she didn’t really want to go, but neither did she care about her courses or make any effort. Instead, she worked direct at Kentucky Fried Chicken, then some local restaurants, and eventually landed an office job – but that’s where it stopped for her.

“Because I didn’t have a diploma, I could never go to school for anything else,” she said. “I couldn’t move forward.”

Eight years ago, Leyba-Ortega fell ill and had a disability that gave her time to complete her high school education. She tried a few other programs but said she was having trouble completing math. Career Online High School, she said, was a format that could finally enable her to be successful.

Each student receives an online academic coach, technical support, and a direct link to local library staff. In addition to school-related courses, students receive professional training in their chosen field, including general office, childcare, retail and security. Leyba-Ortega said she hopes to continue her education after graduating as a dental assistant.

Joshua Fox is the library’s program coordinator. He said the program had six students who had to complete an interview with library staff in order to be accepted. Students must also be at least 19 years old, take an online exam and complete a two-week preparatory course. Fox said they are looking for people who are passionate and engaged.

“Because we’re investing in them,” he said. “It’s a time investment on your part. Everyone said life got in the way and they couldn’t finish high school, but now they feel like they can. “

He said the program lasts about 750 hours and students have up to 18 months to complete.

The State Library agreed to award each grant on a one-to-one basis. The Albuquerque Public Library Foundation funded part of the library’s grants.

Julia Clarke, president of the foundation, said the program is of benefit to more than the students.

“This program makes a huge difference for the individual and also for the community,” she said. “Studies show that those who graduate from high school make $ 8,000 to $ 10,000 more annually than those who don’t. And higher graduation rates in a community mean less crime, lower social costs and healthier residents. “

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