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Never too late to learn: Coffee County adult education students make the grade

Posted on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 11:09 am

I have that sense of achievement, knowing that all that hard work paid off. If you are even remotely interested in getting your GED… don’t put it off.

–Jacquelynn Skidmore, CNA


By John Coffelt, Staff Writer

Despite the best efforts of educators, some students fall through the cracks and become what many derisively pigeonhole as high school dropouts.

Jacquelynn Skidmore, a young, bright-eyed Tullahoma woman whose frenetic love-for-life shows on her petite frame, quit school not because she isn’t smart –– she is, breezing through the GED test within six weeks of starting the Coffee County Adult Basic Education program.

Skidmore failed to graduate because of a medical condition, endometriosis, which makes sitting still in class seven hours each day an excruciating ordeal.

Her story, if not the specifics, is similar for many others.

Connie Hall, a non-traditional student who has earned both her GED and now a perfect grade point average at Motlow State Community College, thought that getting kicked out of high school would free her from an abusive home life.

It didn’t, but it did become a driving force in her life.

Whatever the reason for quitting school, there must be an equally, if not more, compelling reason for returning.

For Skidmore, who like Hall is eyeing a medical career, not getting an education was never an option.

“It was drilled into my head as a child that nothing could stand in my way,” Skidmore said.

“[My story] is not for pity, I simply want you to understand where I came from, so you can understand… what effect getting the GED had on my life,” Skidmore said during the keynote address at a recent GED recognition ceremony held by Coffee County Adult Basic Education.

It was tough for Skidmore to be a then-14-year-old girl, diagnosed with a condition that even as an adult is awkward to discuss.

Her condition means that the tissue that should grow, monthly, inside her womb implants and grows outside the uterine cavity. Those growths cause severe   cramping, made even worse during menstruation, pelvic inflammation and, in some cases, scaring and possibly infertility.

“It’s not something that you can fully understand unless you have it. We knew…[the condition] would mean numerous surgeries, copious medications and a seemingly endless stream of doctors and specialist…[all of whom] never seemed to improve my condition,” she said.

“I fell into a normal routine of constant pain and painkillers at 14 years old.”

She said school became one of her toughest obstacles, but is quick to add that she is not mounting a “high school smear campaign.”

Read the complete story in this week’s Manchester Times print edition. To subscribe, call 728-7577 or Click to subscribe to the print and / or online edition of the paper.

Next week: A closer look at what the adult education classroom and what one school is doing to help students graduate.