Springfield Housing Authority Expands GED Program to Riverview Apartments
The popular GED program at Springfield Housing Authority’s Deborah Barton Neighborhood Network Center is expanding to a new location in the Brightwood section of the city.
The current program at the John L. Sullivan Apartments on Nursery Street has been operating weekday mornings for the past four years. Starting on Nov. 5, those seeking the General Education Development – akin to a high school diploma for those who left before graduating – will have a chance to take classes at the Riverview Apartments.
SHA Grants Program Coordinator Lidya Rivera said the new program, which will run twice-weekly to start, is part of a collaboration with the New North Campus Coalition, which is providing the funding necessary for the expansion.
“This is great because it’s such a popular program, and it’s so good for our residents as well as the general public,” she said. “We always have a waiting list. As soon as one person finishes, another comes in off the waiting list.”
Since the program began at Sullivan, 48 men and women have graduated and passed their GED tests. Many have gone on to job training programs, or to community colleges including Springfield Technical Community College and Holyoke Community College.
The Sullivan program runs Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to noon. The new program at Riverview, which will be 103 Division St., will run Mondays and Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m.
Students like Jack Toles, 22, a resident of Robinson Gardens Apartments, say the GED program is a pathway to a better life. Toles left the High School of Science and Technology when he and his family became homeless after a major fire in 2009.
“We went from hotel to hotel for a while, and then a shelter, before we found a place to live. I just stopped going to school,” he said.
But now, Toles and 14 others can be found on weekday mornings at the center at Sullivan, studying with teacher Sarah Carbone, who helps them master skills in mathematics, history, science, social studies, reading and writing.
“I want to have a future and a good life,” Toles explained. “Once I get my GED I want to join the army.”
Carbone, who will also teach at the Riverview location, said the program has multiple benefits for participants.
“It promotes self-sufficiency, and it gives participants a sense that they can accomplish things,” she said. “Most of them have had setbacks, and this helps them overcome that. It also sets a good example for their children.”
Anyone interested in registering for the GED classes at either location may call 413-785-1562.