Staff Spotlight: Fred De La Rosa - Pathways to Progress GED Program Instructor
5/17/2013 11:52 AM
Among the many services Hope House provides for both clients and community members is a tuition-free GED program run in partnership with the Milwaukee Area Technical College. The program has been in existence for many years and located at Hope House since 1996. The General Educational Diploma is a series of tests that certify proficiency in five areas of learning: Social Studies, Science, Mathematics, Language Arts - Reading and Language Arts – Writing. MATC provides support for the program by supplying computers, software and books, while Hope House furnishes the classroom space and instruction and in emergency cases, will assist with covering the costs of testing. For individuals who did not earn a High School Diploma, the GED is the most accepted form of equivalency and a critical piece of the puzzle for securing stable employment and working one’s way out of poverty. With any instruction, a passionate educator can make all the difference in connecting with students, compelling them to do their best work and striving for success beyond the classroom; Hope House’s program is fortunate to have such an instructor in Fred De La Rosa.
This is Fred’s tenth year of teaching Hope House’s GED program.He began teaching in 1993 in a bilingual HSED (High School Equivalency Diploma) program for migrant farm workers at MATC, which he taught until 1997. In addition to Hope House, where Fred has been teaching since 2003, he has taught at CYD (Career Youth Development), civics classes at SDC (Social Development Commission), as well as courses in finances. Fred’s educational background and research pairs well with those he serves at Hope House. He earned an MS in Cultural Foundations in Education from UW – Milwaukee with research examining different cultural groups learning process in ESL programs. Fred set up a study comparing Latino, Asian and Russian minorities’ approaches to learning English. Through his research, he found that learning styles differed between the groups; the Russian students entered the programs with the highest educational levels (Masters and Doctorates), greatest fluency in other languages (3-4)were most individually focused and competitive in their approach to their studies. The difference between groups was noticeable, as the Latino and Asian students tended to have lower levels of education, yet were most interested in working collaboratively with one another to speed the language-learning process.
For Fred, one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching in the GED program is seeing former students succeeding in new careers, or continuing on with their education to receive advanced degrees. He notes that Hope House’s dedication to the program and supportive atmosphere also help to ensure that students have what they need to achieve success. Program support includes essentials such as funding for materials and field trips, or assistance with covering the cost of GED exams, but also extends to access to the Food Pantry, Easter and Christmas baskets, as well as the other supportive services that Hope House offers for those in financial need. Among the challenges that Fred faces is keeping students motivated in spite of the obstacles they face, such as a long-standing difficulty in completing their education, juggling complex home and work schedules, or financial constraints that can place stress on the students. While these barriers can be overwhelming, Fred is “up to the challenge” of motivating students to work though hurdles and to complete their GED.
The value of GED programs to the community at large cannot be underestimated. The correlations between low-educational levels and incarceration are significant, with the percentage of incarcerated individuals without a high school diploma, or GED nearing 70% in some states. The multiplying effect of low-educational attainment is significant for the individual, but also for families and communities, where a lack of education can make it difficult to find and keep family-supporting jobs. This also affects the goals and needs of a community, as the cost of an education is much lower that that of incarceration of an individual. The domino effects that connect low-educational levels and difficulty in finding sustaining work to crime and incarceration can be overcome through GED programs, such as Hope House’s. Such programs, when taught by dedicated and passionate educators such as Fred De La Rosa, can serve to build the lives of individuals and families, as well as stabilizing and uplifting the communities around them.