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Re:Start puts students back on track

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For more information visit the Re:Start Chattanooga Web site.

There are a million different reasons students find themselves testing for a general education development diploma, says Re:Start director of education Rubi Porter.

“It’s just life gets in the way,” Porter said. “We understand that. You hear it all. You will find out there is no one story that can be told for the whole group. Everyone has an individual story.”

East Brainerd resident Hayden Jordan is one of many students who worked with Re:Start to earn his GED and graduate from the program this summer.

“I’m glad that I can say I’m done until I go to college,” the 17-year-old said. “I’m done with school for now.”

Jordan said drug- and alcohol-related problems prevented him from finishing school at Ooltewah High School.

After alternative school and adult high school, he said, the GED program was a natural next step. A friend recommended Re:Start to guide him.

“They’re great over there,” Jordan said. “They really helped me out. It allowed me to go ahead and get my diploma so I didn’t have to go through any more stuff at Ooltewah, where I would get in trouble.”

Re:Start, The Center for Adult Education, is a state-funded program that prepares students to take the GED tests. The 50-year-old organization was formerly known as READ Chattanooga before changing its name earlier this year to better reflect its role of providing adult education for the community.

“We know that they start, and many, many times they have to stop out,” Porter said. “They can re-start here.”

Jordan will start classes at Chattanooga State in the fall and may study advertising, an idea he got watching commercials on television.

“I could make a commercial 10 times better than that,” he said. “If somebody came to me with a product and they wanted me to advertise it and get sales, I’m so confident I could do that really well.”

But Jordan said he’ll miss attending OHS and wrestling and playing soccer this fall.

“I just really wanted to have my senior year. That’s my only downside,” Jordan said. “That’s where all my friends are. (OHS) wouldn’t let me go back. I guess I used up all my chances.”

Porter said most Re:Start participants are adults who left high school years ago. She said having children, sick parents or a spouse can make finishing school hard.

“It’s not easy,” Porter said. “When you’re an adult, school is not the priority.”

Porter said GED graduates go on to lead productive lives, some becoming doctors, lawyers and business owners.

“These people have made a big accomplishment in their life,” Porter said.

Porter said a GED diploma requires five tests. Most colleges, she said, accept the GED diploma, and diploma holders also qualify for the Tennessee HOPE scholarship.

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