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Grant continues free GED training

Springfield program has helped more than 1,000 people now.

A $13,000 grant from a national dollar store chain’s literacy organization will help support free literacy classes for Clark County families like Amanda Miller’s — who at age 32 earned her GED last month.

And continued education through Project Springboard, a partnership between Springfield City Schools and the Miami Valley Child Development Centers, enabled her to help her son Christopher Courtney, 6, to progress in his reading skills as he went through kindergarten last year, she said.

The district was the recipient of the Dollar General Literacy Organization grant to help fund its Project Springboard, a family literacy program that’s served more than 400 adults and 600 children in Clark County since 1996, the district announced this week.

The funding will serve 30 low-income families, with additional funding from The Springfield Foundation and the Barbara Bush Foundation.

Miller said her biggest shock was becoming a published writer with her poem Gabriel’s Angels, written in honor of her son, whose middle name is Gabriel.

It was published in a collection of works titled Beginnings XVI, a publication for participants in Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE) programs across the state by the Ohio Literacy Resource Center .

The spring class of Project Springboard also had a second published writer, Jazmin M. Benton, for her piece titled I’m Broken.

Instructor Jean Benton credited much of the success of the program, which saw 13 parents receive their GEDs this year, to program-provided transportation and child care.

“Research has really shown the two biggest stumbling blocks to parents being able to complete their education is transportation and child care,” Benton said.

But Benton also credited this year’s program success to Miller, who encouraged other students to succeed and not give up.

“Amanda has really been a cheerleader for the other students. There’s been times when a student wouldn’t come in maybe they were tired and lazy, and Amanda would call them up and encourage them to get in here,” Benton said.

“Everyone called me Mom of the class because if you didn’t show up to class, I was texting calling or sending you a message on Facebook … because to me it was so important,” Miller said. “I’ve been trying for 13 years. I’m 32 years old, and I finally get my GED.”

Now, she’s been accepted into Clark State Community College to pursue a degree in photography starting this fall. It’s a career that she’s always wanted to pursue, she said.

Her boyfriend and Christopher’s father, Sean, also went through the program and received his GED.

Classes will begin again July 1 with some returning students and some new students, Jean Benton said. Students progress at their own pace and can start as there is an opening, even mid-term, she said.

Those who have at least one child younger than 5 are eligible.

“We are excited and honored to receive this award,” said the district’s Family Programming Supervisor Lynn Payton.

“We will use the award to support the expansion of our 16-year family literacy campaign to increase children’s readiness for school, support parents as their child’s first teacher, and help adults obtain the skills and education needed for employment to support their families,” she said.

For more information or to enroll, call the district’s Office of Family Programming at 937-505‐4344 or 937-505‐4366.

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