September 15, 2008
This week, we have a story from Richmond, PEI. The author, Nora Richard, won a $500 scholarship from the PEI Literacy Alliance in March 2008. She is enrolled at Holland College in Charlottetown, completing her GED.
My name is Nora and I was born and raised in Richmond, PEI. I come from a large family of thirteen.
My early memories of school were bad ones. Both my parents were very bad alcoholics. Many times in school when I should have been listening to the teacher, all I could think about was the fighting that took place the night before. I had three younger brothers and two younger sisters to look after. At that time, our survival was more important than school. Eventually Children's Aid became involved and we were all placed in foster homes.
I left school and the foster home at age sixteen thinking that I knew everything. I was in for the surprise of my life. First thing I had to do was find a job to support myself. My older sister said if I wanted to live with her, then I had to work. I soon got a job in a factory, and after two months I was fed up with factory work and quit my job.
This time I decided to go to the Employment Centre to find better jobs that I would like. Every time I saw one that perked my interest I would check to see what qualifications were needed. It would always read "Must have grade twelve". This was very discouraging because I only had grade ten.
I have gone back to school two times since I have quit to get my grade twelve. However, I found it too hard, financially, to raise children, look after the house keeping and pay bills and I decided that school would just have to wait.
In 2002, I was elected as the Vice President of the Native Council of PEI. I wanted to resign the very day I was elected because I knew that I was lacking the education. I loved working with the Native Council and remained there for four years. Since that time, I have resigned to focus on my education.
In October of this fall, I returned to Holland College in Charlottetown to continue with my upgrading. I feel very fortunate to be given another chance to return to school. My goal is to get my GED and take further training at Holland College.
It has been thirty three years since I have quit school, and I am still trying to get my grade twelve. If I knew back then what I know now I definitely would have stayed in school.
[This story was taken with permission, from Live & Learn, Spring & Summer 2008, published by the PEI Literacy Alliance.]