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From the Cape Breton Post, Thursday May 25 2006, Page B6

Byline: Julie collins

Betty Smith is surrounded by books during the day and at night hits the books as she studies for her high school equivalency.

Smith, a supervisor/cleaner with the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board, left school in Grade 9 to enter the workforce full time.

“Admittedly, I was scared at the thought of studying, but the desire to get my high school diploma was stronger than my fear of failure.”

Smith was provided the opportunity through the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 5050 to get her high school diploma. The program is offered in partnership with the union, school board and Department of Education.

The General Educational Development testing program allows adults, who have not finished high school, to show that they have acquired the knowledge and skills comparable to high school completion.

Smith, who is writing again in June, didn’t pass all her subjects the first time around.

“I’ll be honest, it was hard and I was pleased to even pass one subject. I’d been away from school for so long. This combined with not knowing what faced us with the exams was a bit overwhelming. Now that I’ve made it past the first hurtle, my resolve is even stronger to succeed.

Smith, who has a grandson graduating from high school next year, said she received a lot of support from her husband, children and grandchildren.

“The grandkids thought it was really something for nanny to be going back to school. My oldest daughter calls me every night making sure I’m in those books. There is no getting away from it. There’s a lot of homework.”

Smith has been working with the school board since 1988 and is presently based at St. Joseph’s Elementary in Sydney Mines.

“In the past I found it difficult to speak out because I was never sure I was saying the right thing. Since taking on this challenge, I’ve become more confident,” she said. “It was important that my children graduated from high school and I pushed them to do better. This is a personal goal for me. It’s is a battle, but once I get my GED, I will be in a position to continue to better myself.”

Smith said she has talked to people in similar situations, who are scared to go back to school.

“If I can do this, I’m sure others can as well. All you really need is the will to try. I’d encourage anyone who wants to get their high school diploma to check into the GED program. It’s changed my life.”