Summer class recognizes eager students

Published 9:35 pm Friday, August 18, 2017

A summer class held at the Suffolk Workforce Development Center on North Main Street prepared some older students for testing, satisfied some of their curiosities and left some still hungry to learn.

A dozen adults graduated from the Suffolk Literacy Council “Summer Camp 2017: Science for the GED” on Thursday and received diplomas in recognition for their studies over the past eight weeks. Suffolk Literacy Council tutor Don Wittenauer — the Pilot Club’s 2017 Volunteer Literacy Tutor of the Year — held classes once per week and four hours per session with help from tutor coordinator Jessica Reitz.

For their third year of summer classes, Wittenauer and Reitz pulled from life science material found in the GED Test 2017 practice book published under the Kaplan Test Prep series. Wittenauer said his students were impressive as they learned about ecosystems and human bodies and treating both well.

Email newsletter signup

“They were very inquisitive,” Wittenauer said. “There were a number of ‘a-ha’ moments where the pieces came together for them.”

The program didn’t require testing or grading. Wittenauer and Reitz instead encouraged the classmates to discuss their readings and notes with each other. They watched video clips of nature phenomena and human anatomy and took walks outside to observe what they read in real time.

Their Thursday session was spent reflecting on everything they learned and how much they had yet to  learn.

“The more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know,” Reitz said.

Each student was provided with a step log sheet thanks to a partnership with Suffolk on the Move coordinator Deborah Nadell, who spoke at a session about the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle for personal health.

Brooke Smith, a Smithfield resident and waitress at Texas Roadhouse in Suffolk, had no issue reaching her walking goals. Smith is studying for her GED to pursue a career in nursing. She passed the science test for the GED because the material Wittenauer used in his lessons was taken straight from the prep book, she said.

“I would come back even if I finished my GED,” she said. “I enjoy learning, and I enjoy the way he teaches.”

Edgar Wiggins, a Paul D. Camp Community College business administration student, signed up for the class out of curiosity. He was pleasantly surprised by the lessons and their practicality outside of the classroom, especially when concerning personal health.

“It took me to places in science I didn’t really know about,” Wiggins said.

Reitz said she hopes to get approval for another program this winter focused on economics and personal finance. She was encouraged by her students’ participation over the last eight weeks and is prepared for another round of discussions.

“We wanted to give them something meaningful, because they are hungry to learn,” she said.

Suffolk resident Dorothy Cherry earned perfect attendance for the class. She earned her GED in 2016 and was still eager for more learning, including more lessons from Wittenauer and Reitz.

“I enjoyed being here, and I’ll enjoy coming back again,” Cherry said.