If you are a few credits shy of a high school diploma, this program is best for you. You can earn credits by:
Birth Date (from Driver License, State of CT Identification Card, Passport or Official Birth Certificate) and proof of Stratford Residency along with your Official Transcript from the last high school attended must be provided upon registration. Click on the Community Calendar for registration dates, times and requirements. Childcare is not available
Arshley Lazarre received her high school diploma during the Stratford Continuing Education ceremony at Stratford High School on Thursday, May 10, 2012. “The only thing that stood in the way of receiving my diploma was my illness,” she explained to the audience. Along with her family, she made the difficult decision to leave school five credits shy of graduating from Bunnell High School.
She traveled to Haiti to receive treatment for her illness. Her health became a priority forcing Arshley to put her education on hold. While other students focused on their high school experience, she fought to regain her health. She remained in Haiti for over a year until she was well enough to return home.
Even during this painful time, Arshley planned to finish her high school diploma. Her parents emphasized the importance of education at an early age, she said. “ I thank them for that because they made me realize I have more options.” They encouraged Arshley to set goals for herself, including going to school and becoming a lawyer.
Apprehensive at first, Arshley enrolled in the Credit Diploma Program within days of her return from Haiti. She was familiar with some of the students, but initially felt out of place. A former Bunnell student, her classmates now included Stratford High students as well. In time, she learned to be comfortable here.
Arshley believes everyone deserves a chance to pursue their education. She describes her experience in the Credit Diploma program as, “great and has helped her achieve her goals.” Her faith in God, family support and best friend encouraged her to finish what she started. She is also grateful to the administration and counselors who guided her on this journey. In particular, she recognized the efforts of her English teacher, Miss Attina, who truly understood the struggles she faced.
Arshley is a proud graduate with a bright future ahead. She proved in spite of adverse circumstances, one can overcome any obstacles. Her plans include working and continuing her education at a local college. With her determination, courage and perseverance there is no doubt Arshley will succeed in any path she follows.
Shamecca Panton received her High School Diploma on May 12, 2011 in the nearly-full Stratford High School auditorium. A member of Stratford Continuing Education’s Credit Diploma Program’s Class of 2011, she was one of two students chosen to address the graduating class.
Shamecca came to Stratford a few years ago from Port Chester, New York and attended Stratford High School, but dropped out in eleventh grade. Realizing the importance of continuing her education, she enrolled in the Credit Diploma Program, one part of Stratford’s Continuing Education programs. Students enrolled in this program earn credits by taking courses required by the state of Connecticut for graduation, and upon completing the program receive a high school diploma from the Stratford Board of Education.
Determined to earn her diploma, Shamecca became dedicated and focused on achieving her goal. She calls her journey “a tough, long run.” She told the graduation audience that so many times she wanted to quit and that there were days she almost did. Actually, she became a very conscientious student with excellent attendance and outstanding grades. All this was accomplished while working at a full-time job in a wholesale warehouse in Norwalk.
She did it for her mother, she said, who provided her with a good home. After leaving high school, she learned the value of that diploma. She thanked the administration for providing the program, the counselors for guiding her when she felt lost, and her teachers, for challenging and helping her, and for not letting her fail. She spoke of her teachers as being understanding, patient, and friendly; they were there when she needed them. She is grateful to her family and friends and to her classmates who “were always there for each other.”
Shamecca is a graduate with great potential. She is ambitious and self-directed. She has a variety of interests including psychology, theater, dance, writing, and music. She intends to enroll in college to continue her education. Shamecca learned that she can be successful in an academic setting. She is a highly proficient student who will continue to work energetically toward the new goals that she sets for herself.
Big dreams are what Lorena Gonzalez-Veliz likes to talk about. Lorena has used her commitment to education, hard work, and pride in citizenship to achieve her dreams. Lorena grew up in Guatemala where she graduated from high school. College was out of the question for Lorena because of the high tuition fees. Political instability in Guatemala convinced Lorena and her husband that they had to make a change. Lorena’s dream was to come to the United States.
Lorena and her husband eventually received political asylum and moved to New York. This alone was a huge accomplishment, but Lorena says that immigrants don’t have just one dream. The first dream is to get to the United States but then more dreams follow. Lorena moved to Stratford because her husband found a job as a handyman. Lorena had greater difficulty finding employment. Many of the jobs she applied for would not accept her Guatemalan High School Diploma. Lorena realized that her new dream was to earn her GED High School Diploma. She learned about the Stratford Continuing Education Program by reading the Stratford Community Calendar. Lorena registered in the GED Preparation and American Citizenship programs.
Lorena says that the American Citizenship classes were great. The teacher kept her focused and helped her understand the material. Lorena passed the American Citizenship exam on her first attempt. She was relieved and is proud to be an American citizen. Lorena thinks it is important to be a good citizen, “Respect the country, loyalty to the country; these are the main things for me”.
Lorena accomplished the dream of becoming an American citizen while working, attending GED classes, and taking care of her family. Lorena has a profound sense of pride in her accomplishments, now she continues on with her next “big dream”.
Any Stratford adult resident without a high school diploma may call Stratford Continuing Education at 385-4270 for more information.
Jennifer Greenberg received her high school diploma during the Stratford Continuing Education’s 2011 Graduation Ceremony held on May 12, 2011 in the Stratford High School Auditorium. “Better late than never”, she said as she addressed the audience as one of the two Credit Diploma students chosen as graduation speakers. Jennifer, a Stratford resident her entire life, looks back at her experience during day school as different from the other students.
She didn’t participate in extra curricular activities, but felt that she simply coasted through the years without putting much effort into her school work. By senior year when it became clear that she wasn’t going to graduate with her class partly because of excessive absences, she withdrew. Feeling low, as if at the end of the road, Jennifer told the audience that for another year, she continued down this destructive path to nowhere.
Working in a restaurant with employees younger than herself starting college opened her eyes to the realization that she was capable of more than this. Jennifer decided to make a commitment to herself that she was determined to keep and enrolled in the Credit Diploma Program. She was surprised to see her favorite day school teacher, Miss Attina, teaching English in the program. One of the school counselors, Mrs. Seperack, and Miss Attina served as her role models, giving her the will to find the confidence she needed not to just “get by” but to do her best.
Jennifer began to believe in herself, creating goals—just simple ones like staying organized, keeping up with homework, and attending class regularly. Within a year, she went from being a drop out to graduating with first honors – straight A’s. Something she never imagined she could achieve “in a million years”.
Jennifer is a compassionate, caring young woman with wonderful potential for success as she continues her education. She gratefully acknowledges the support of the administration, all of her teachers, and fellow classmates. She spoke of the unconditional support that she received from her family as she worked to achieve the goal that would open doors to a brighter future filled with opportunities not available without a high school diploma. Jennifer plans to attend college to pursue a career in the medical field. Her compassion for others makes her an excellent candidate for this area of study.
Remy Exantus is an excellent example of persistence and life long learning. Remy was born in Gonaives, Haiti. His parents had no formal education but were successful farmers. Remy graduated high school in Haiti, followed by a technical school in Port-au-Prince. In 1978 one of Remy’s five brothers made the voyage to the United States. Remy did not consider leaving Haiti until 1991. The weak Haitian economy convinced him that he had more opportunities for success in the United States.
When Remy arrived in the U.S. he spoke no English. Remy began language classes in the Stamford Continuing Education Program. Remy worked in a factory until he received his CDL license. Remy enjoyed success at work, but felt he could do more. Remy decided that he wanted to earn a GED High School Diploma.
A friend recommended that Remy investigate the Stratford Continuing Education Program. In 2009 Remy registered for ABE/GED classes. Since Remy entered the Stratford Continuing Education Program he has been a consistently diligent worker.
Remy has already passed the Social Studies and Math sections of the GED. We look forward to Remy completing the remaining GED tests and attaining his goals. Remy has made a commitment to education that is truly commendable. He is an excellent model for his three children who are in the Stratford Public School System. Remy proves that anyone can achieve their educational goals with persistence and a dedication to life long learning.
Superintendent Irene Cornish congratulating Ashley Gonzalez for earning her Diploma from the Continuing Education Credit Diploma Program.
Ashley understood the value of an education at a young age and enjoyed the pleasure that knowledge, talent, and skill bring to an individual. She enjoyed drawing ever since she was a young child. In middle school, Ashley learned that drawing was more than just something to do for fun. Her art classes in middle school lit a spark inside her that brought out both a talent and a very strong desire to learn more. This interest in art helped her through many difficult times in her young life when completing her high school education became more and more of a goal almost out of her reach.
It wasn’t Ashley’s ability as a student that moved the goal farther out of her reach as a young beginning high school student. It was her compassion and unselfish desire to help her family that postponed her own goals. She tried to do both, attend school and help out at home, but she began to miss more and more school. She enrolled in ALPHA, an alternative high school program with a shortened day, but still felt the need to help during the day. Her principal suggested Stratford’s Credit Diploma Program. These classes meet at night, and Ashley found the way to achieve both her goals: help at home and graduate from high school. After spending more than two years in Stratford’s Credit Diploma Program, she will receive her diploma.
During the years since middle school, Ashley has collected a portfolio of her art work. Her interest is in illustration and graphic design. She also has a strong interest in Early Childhood education. She loves working with children, and says they make her smile. She plans to pursue study in both of these areas in college. Ashley is a young woman wise beyond her years. She found a hobby in art that allowed her to relax when the pressures of life bore down on her. She wants to follow a career in which children make her smile, and she had the perseverance to graduate from high school in the face of many obstacles.
Superintendent Irene Cornish congratulating Madeline Diaz for earning her Diploma from the Continuing Education Credit Diploma Program.
Lifetime learning is a goal that educational leaders try to instill in students at an early age. Madeline Diaz is an excellent example of the value of lifetime learning. She also exemplifies the fact that no matter how long the interruptions are, or how important the reasons are for interrupting an education, a motivated person can pick up, start over, and finish a goal once interrupted.
Even though she left school at sixteen, for sometime Madeline believed that she did not need a high school diploma. She always worked even without the diploma, in a grocery store and in a factory. Through the YWCA, she took a typing course at Housatonic Community College and obtained a job as a receptionist where she worked for seven years. Since 1994, she has worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant, having obtained her training at Bullard Havens Technical School. She has always liked taking care of and helping others.
Her experiences as a C.N.A. have led to her wanting to continue her education to pursue a career in occupational therapy. This goal necessitated a high school diploma, and so she enrolled in the Credit Diploma Program at Stratford Continuing Education, where she received her diploma on May 13, 2010. Madeline intends to enroll in Housatonic Community College to obtain an Associate’s Degree in Occupational Therapy.
Now, it’s my turn!” best describes the situation in which Claudia Gonzalez found herself.
Claudia was 17 years old when she left school to have her first son, Vernon. Both, she and her mother were disappointed: “My mother really wanted to see me graduate.”
Perseverance prevailed as Claudia worked at two jobs in order to support her family and help pay for the baby sitter after the arrival of her second child.
Claudia’s goal of earning her High School diploma had to be postponed for quite a while as her sons were growing up. She explained, “I wanted to be there for my sons so they wouldn’t make the same mistakes I did.”
When Vernon was about to graduate from Bunnell High School and enroll at Housatonic Community College, he encouraged his mother to return to school and further her education.
Claudia enrolled in Stratford’s GED Preparation Program to achieve her dream of earning a High School Diploma twenty years after leaving school. Success followed: Claudia passed her GED test the very first time around! With her new-found success, Claudia has begun the process toward becoming a nurse.
“If the idea has always been there to get a diploma, despite the struggle, there is no excuse to avoid registering for a program such as Stratford Continuing Education. They care and they will help you,” advises Claudia.
Superintendent Irene Cornish congratulating Esteban Ortiz for earning his Diploma by passing the State of Connecticut GED test.
The roads we choose during our journeys of life can lead us to many new and unanticipated directions. Esteban Ortiz discovered this as he chose to leave high school in another municipality in his sophomore year because he felt he didn’t fit into the routine and because the work just wasn’t challenging.
His father was disappointed and held Esteban accountable for finding a job. For years, Esteban held odd jobs ranging from Labor Force to Walgreen’s to construction to carpet cleaning. He wasn’t happy with the lack of direction but he was earning a living and meeting his father’s expectations.
At 21, Esteban married. His wife who encouraged him to find more reliable and better-paying work to support their growing family. Esteban settled into working for a printing company and said his pay tripled over the years.
The road took an unexpected turn: computerization transformed the printing industry, eliminating many jobs. As Esteban re-entered the job market as the economy soured, he found he was limited with no high school diploma.
With the encouragement and support of his family, Esteban enrolled in Stratford’s GED preparation program. He found his year in classes was very helpful, “especially in math.” His daughter also helped him with his math homework.
Esteban recalled: “The day I received my diploma in the mail, my heart stopped beating. I looked at the photo of my Dad on the wall and shouted, ‘Dad, I did it!’ My achievement is bigger than anything in the world. It was so exciting to read my name on the diploma.”
Advice from Esteban: “Regardless of how frustrated or whatever is holding you back, go to school and stick it out. Don’t give up.”
Jennifer Matteo receiving her Certificate of Achievement award from Board of Education Member Jean Collier.
Jennifer Matteo is a very bright young woman who realizes the need for a high school diploma. Without it there are too many roadblocks, too many obstacles to achieving goals she has set for herself. Some young people in the traditional high school just don't find that the experience lives up to that old expression "the best years of your life".
Jen was one of those students who found the traditional high school intolerable, and she withdrew. After a year out of school working full-time and volunteering in a senior center, the value of a high school diploma became something she understood fully. Without a high school diploma, her choices in life would be severely limited. She knew she had to graduate from high school, but she also knew that traditional day school was not for her. After moving to Stratford, at the suggestion of a guidance counselor, Jen inquired about the Stratford Continuing Education Credit Diploma Program and was soon enrolled.
Jen spent three years in the Credit Diploma Program and found the shorter three-hour, four-day week to her liking. She was also able to take on-line classes allowing her to earn credits at her own speed. This program was very comfortable for her. She had found traditional education moving too slowly for her. In addition, Jen works two jobs during the day, and says she probably would not have finished high school if day school was her only option. She plans to attend Housatonic Community College in the fall to continue her education.
A citizen of Yemen, Samira Ghaleb met her future husband, Ahmed Alwan in her native country. Being a United States citizen, he brought his new wife to America.
It was an awesome experience for Samira, adjusting to a new language and a new culture. Samira and Ahmed are proud of their four children who attend Stratford schools.
Samira observed there is more advanced technology in American classrooms and that teachers are more helpful here. She has improved her mastery of the English language by reading books, watching television, and speaking with her family.
Some years ago, Samira encouraged her husband to work toward acquiring his Associate of Science degree. Now, Ahmed is reciprocating by encouraging Samira, who attended school in Yemen for eight years, to work toward improving her basic skills in English and Mathematics in Stratford’s Continuing Education Program.
With the support of her husband and children, Samira enrolled in the Adult Basic Skills program in 2006. She has made steady progress in developing her skills and dreams of achieving her GED High School Diploma soon. Her dreams continue with eventually attending college to become an architect.
The message of Samira’s story: with dedication and perseverance in furthering your education, dreams CAN be realized.
Superintendent Irene Cornish congratulating Kathryn Hanrahan for earning her diploma from the Continuing Education Credit Diploma Program.
Since completing twelfth grade at Stratford Continuing Education Credit Diploma Program in December 2009, Kathryn Hanrahan has attended Housatonic Community College as a part time student for the spring semester. She has recently declared her major as criminal justice as well as pairing up with a program in liberal arts and science. Kathryn is registered for both summer and fall semesters, switching her status to full time. After completion of all degree requirements, she plans to transfer to the University of New Haven to enroll in their forensics program with a goal of joining the FBI in the future. While attending Housatonic Community College, Kathryn has also completed an accelerated Emergency Medical Technician – Basic course this past March. She plans to take the National Registry Emergency Medical Technician exam at the end of June. Once certified, Kathryn would like a position with Stratford EMS as a part-time volunteer. She is also currently looking into a summer internship with the Stratford Police Department. Kathryn would like to thank her friends and mentors Kelly Donnelly, Erik Veroba, Stratford Police Officer Robert Rosenbaum, and Barbara Pitcher, Coordinator of Continuing Education. “Without their help and advice, I don’t believe I would have made it this far.”
Superintendent Irene Cornish awarding Nancy Rios with her Stratford Evening High School Diploma
Nancy Rios, a single mother of three children, dropped out of high school at 17. Years of a very difficult personal life followed. The loss of her job and the impossibility of finding another one convinced her that she needed her high school diploma. Eighteen years after dropping out of school, Nancy enrolled in Stratford Continuing Education's Credit Diploma Program and successfully completed the requirements for graduation. During her final year of the program, she suffered with a serious illness, the loss of her job, and her home. Nancy credits the support of her extended family, her desire for a better life for herself and her family, and the support of the administration, faculty, and staff for being able to achieve her goal. Setting the example for her children that a high school diploma is necessary and teaching them to be self-sufficient are very important to Nancy. She wants young people to understand that when parents push them to get an education and graduate, they are doing it out of love and because they don't want their children to have to struggle the way she did. Stratford Continuing Education Administration and staff with Nancy continued success.
Superintendent Irene Cornish awarding Migdalia Cruz with her Stratford Evening High School Diploma
There can be many obstacles in our paths throughout our life journeys. As a 17 year old, Migdalia Cruz has experienced and surmounted many of those obstacles in recent years.
In less than a three year period, Migdalia attended three different high schools. These transitions certainly challenged her; but her greatest challenge was coping with a long-term illness which prevented her from attending Stratford High School regularly. Options were discussed during a meeting with Migdalia, her mother, a counselor and school administrator.
After researching her choices, Migdalia chose to register in the GED Preparation Program at Stratford Continuing Education. She had mixed feelings: she was excited about beginning but also felt some trepidation about what her first class would be like.
That trepidation faded quickly as she found smaller classes taught by supportive and reassuring teachers. She said, “They helped me fill in the gaps, spending extra time to help me. After a while, they told me they knew I would pass the GED test.”
Less than a year after she entered the program, Migdalia proudly passed the GED test on her first attempt. Her future plan is to enroll in an interior design program at Housatonic Community College.
For those who do not yet have a high school diploma, Migdalia advises, “If you have a choice, enroll into the GED program. It’s an environment that supports your efforts. The teachers are there for you 100%. You just can’t give up.”
Superintendent Irene Cornish awarding Greg Palyo with her Stratford Evening High School Diploma
Is it ever too late to resume your formal education? Greg Palyo dropped out of high school fourteen years ago in order to be a full-time caretaker for his ill grandmother. Greg and his father found it was too expensive to place her in a convalescent home; so, Greg generously sacrificed his schooling.
Several years later, Greg began working as a full-time carpenter with his father. Periodically, Greg thought about returning to school, realizing he wanted something more out of life. In a sense, he did return to school; but it was in the capacity of repairing the doors and locks of Stratford's school buildings.
It took the support and encouragement of Greg's girlfriend (who was already attending college part-time) to help him confront his reluctance. He registered for Stratford's GED preparation classes in September of 2008.
Attending the first couple of classes, Greg felt nervous and embarrassed. He asked himself, "What did I get myself into?" After a while, he really 'got into it," asking himself, "Why didn't I go back sooner?"
As Greg's confidence grew, he discovered he actually enjoyed his classes. He found his teachers to be helpful and supportive, presenting a balance between whole group and individualized instruction.
In January of 2009, just a half year later, Greg took the plunge and passed all five GED tests the first time. Savoring his achievement, Greg is now considering enrolling in college soon.
To those who may be apprehensive about returning to school. Greg offers this adives: "Take that first step. You can handle anything you want if you put your mind to it. If you don't do it soon, you may look back and regret the additional time you lost."
Superintendent Irene Cornish awarding Emily Cortes with her Stratford Evening High School Diploma
Emily Cortes came to Stratford Evening High School three years ago for what she calls a second opportunity to earn her high school diploma. Looking back, she believes she was immature when she started high school the first time, interested more in having fun rather than preparing for the future. Today she knows that her diploma is the beginning of a better future for herself and her family. In an evening high school accounting class, Emily began to see the possibility of a career for herself. She realized it was not too late for her, and began giving 100% effort in every class she attended.
Emily sees graduation as a beginning, not an ending, toward reaching her goal of becoming an entrepreneur. She plans to open and manage her own restaurant. For Emily, graduation is a culmination of overcoming many obstacles to continue to work toward achieving her goals. She plans to attend Housatonic Community College.
John Killian, 2009 GED Teacher of the Year, receiving his Crystal Apple Teacher of the Year award from
Barbara Pitcher from the Connecticut Association for Adult and Continuing Education (CAACE).
John Killian has been teaching in adult education for the past 7 years. During his tenure at Stratford Continuing Education, John has not only exemplified characteristics of a master teacher, he has displayed talents innate of an instructional leader.
From the onset, he became an active participant of adult education. He showed initiative and drive through his desire to personally assess the academic needs of his students as reflected in their pretests. Understanding the need for assessment as the driving force of instruction, he tailors his courses accordingly. He uses collaborative learning successfully in his classes. He celebrates his students’ achievements every step along the way. This past spring, we had one student who was almost ready to pass the GED Test. John volunteered his time several hours a week for the months of June and July to help her with the math. This student finally did pass the GED Test in August. John has now begun to augment his lessons helping his students to use the distance learning as another avenue for instruction as well as motivation.
Mr. Killian endeavors to address the curricular needs of his students in a manner that is respectful and non-threatening; always keeping his students dignity in mind. John is a very warm and caring gentleman who calls students or sends postcards to check on them when they are absent. John enjoys mentoring new teachers and collaborates and shares his ideas with his other colleagues. Barbara Pitcher, Coordinator of Stratford Continuing Education believes John Killian represents the BEST of the BEST in adult education. The Connecticut Association for Adult and Continuing Education is pleased to congratulate John and wish him continued success.
Margaret Blanda, 2008 ESOL Teacher of the Year, receiving her award from
Barbara Pitcher from the Connecticut Association for Adult and Continuing Education (CAACE).
Margaret Blanda has been teaching in adult education for the past 22 years. During her tenure at Stratford Continuing Education, Margaret has exemplified characteristics of a master teacher.
From the onset, she became an active participant of adult education. Understanding the need for assessment as the driving force of instruction, she tailors her courses accordingly. She uses collaborative learning successfully in her ESOL classes. She celebrates her students’ achievements every step along the way.
Mrs. Blanda endeavors to address the curricular needs of her students in a manner that is respectful and non-threatening; always keeping her students’ dignity in mind. Margaret is a very warm and caring person who has a wonderful rapport with her students.
Margaret has presented several workshops in her field for CAACE and other individual adult education programs. She also continues to volunteer her time as a CEU facilitator each year at the CAACE Conference. Barbara Pitcher and the Stratford Continuing Education staff are very proud of Mrs. Blanda’s recognition and wish her continued success.
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