December 29, 2003
This story was written by Crystal Crawford Reynolds, from Miramichi, New Brunswick. Crystal was recently enrolled in literacy classes at A Second Chance CASP - Community Academic Services Program (CASP) in Miramichi. She obtained her GED a few years ago, then pursued her studies at a private college. She is very glad to have participated in classes at her local CASP classroom, and to have given a motivational speech during the graduation ceremonies this year.
My name is Crystal Crawford Reynolds. In March of 1998, I was told about a class that could help me get my grade twelve equivalency. I wasn't sure about going at the time since I was trying to get over the death of my infant daughter, who would have started kindergarten last month. Sinking into a depression that had me on the verge of hospitalization, it was suggested to me by my doctor that I find something to occupy my thoughts. That week, I went to my local CASP and registered for classes. I quickly became a regular full time student for the first time in over six years.
It wasn't always easy, but the teachers always found someway to accommodate me so that I could go on. After attending class for just over a year, I was ready to write the tests.
Now, I am proud to have been a student and a GED graduate of my local CASP; so proud that I participated in one of the first graduation ceremonies for GED graduates in our area by giving a motivational speech.
Two weeks after receiving my diploma, I enrolled in classes at Horizon College and became a graduate from there in June 2000. Because of all this, I have had the opportunity to work for a lawyer, for one of the leading dairy companies in the province, and also for the local school district working with kindergarten students. All of this could not have happened without the help of the educators at CASP.
Many others have graduated and have gone on to better their lives; just a few examples are: a young man who is now manager of a Future Shop in Red Deer, Alberta; a couple from my class who are now both working and able to support their family; and another person who is now taking university courses to become a social worker to help kids. The teachers are proud of their students, some of who are making better wages than the teachers who helped them get there.
CASP, as well as the community, is at risk of losing these qualified and experienced instructors, some who have been working for the past thirteen years without a wage increase. These teachers love their jobs, I have been witness to that, but many cannot continue to do it because the cost of living is increasing yet their salaries have not. They are as proud of their jobs as they are of their students. They offer more than an education; they offer friendships.
Every year there are twenty students just in my former CASP alone. Most individuals need motivation and instruction throughout the learning process, instead of being self-taught. Students depend on these teachers to help them cope with the stress of learning new subjects, some of which are first time experiences.
Facilitators work long and hard to ensure that each student is capable of understanding the subject he or she is studying. CASP instructors are "jacks of all trades" teaching all subjects at all levels from elementary, to junior high, to senior and GED levels. The workload is harder now more than ever, as there are many more students looking for upgrading.
Having so many graduates not only helps individuals, but also the community as well. People are getting educated, getting off welfare, Employment Insurance, etc, and are contributing to the community in a positive way.
Also, I know from my experience from working in the school system the importance of a teacher's work. Parents without a proper education have difficulty helping their children at home. I would like to be able to get these parents into a CASP so that they will not only be helping their children, but also themselves.
I have kept in touch with Dianne and Darlene over these past years, and when they told me about this meeting, I wanted to help. I felt that explaining the importance of CASP from a student's perspective would show you how essential these programs are and how essential it is to recognize the instructors' work.
Thank you for your time.