Green Hills Public Library District Now Offers Accredited High School Diplomas

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| Originally posted in the Chicago Tribune by Janice Neumann |

The staff of the Green Hills Public Library District in Palos Hills give adults who never finished high school a chance at a better future.

The library recently launched the Career Online High School and five scholarships to make the high school degree and career certificate program affordable.

The program offers course materials and online access, complete with academic coaches and certified instructors from Career Online High School, the California-based company that manages the program.

Course work includes basic high school subjects, health and physical education, and career elective courses (including child care and education, office management, and retail customer service).

Sara Kennedy, assistant director of public services for the library, said she opted for the program because it was so accessible and affordable for people.

She said students could come to library staff for support. Staff members recently sent out a newsletter announcing the program, though no adults have yet enrolled.

“If they have no internet at home, they are welcome to come here,” Kennedy said. “Or maybe they have a computer at home and can’t focus.”

Kennedy said she figured the program was needed after hearing about enrollment in a high school equivalency program at nearby Moraine Valley Community College.

“It’s very popular there from what I hear,” said Kennedy. “We’re just trying to supplement the services they offer.”

Moraine Valley Community College’s Adult Basic Education Program for high school equivalency had 800 students in 2016 and 2017 combined, according to Nina Shoman-Dajani, assistant dean of learning enrichment and college readiness.

Kennedy also noted that RAILS — Reaching Across Illinois Library System — helped make Career Online High School much more affordable for libraries by funding the self-assessment portion of the program.

“This is an important role public libraries can play to support education in the community and to be a partner for workforce development.”

-Veronda Pitchford, director of membership development and resource sharing for RAILS

The Mokena Community Public Library District launched the program last year and has one adult enrolled.

“It sounded like a really great program,” said Assistant Director Luke Surdel. “Workers at the reference desk get a fair number of people looking for materials on the GED, so it definitely seemed like there would be a need.”

Surdel pointed out some people prefer a high school diploma over a GED ( General Education Development) certificate because it is generally considered more comprehensive and employers sometimes prefer the diploma.

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