By RENEE FITE
Parents want to help their children succeed in school, but they don’t always know how.
Tammie Paris, local General Education Development teacher, advises parents to never give up.
Students who drop out of school or never complete home school studies have the option of getting their GED certification.
For the past 13 years, Paris has helped many students develop the skills needed to pass the test giving them the equivalent of a high school diploma. She began working as a GED teacher in 1999, when she was hired by Tahlequah Public Schools on an Adult Education and Literacy grant funded by the Oklahoma Department of Education. GED is one of several programs under the umbrella of adult education, Paris said.
“The thing I like most about teaching in this specialized area is the feeling of doing something that has positively impacted a person’s life and the community we live in,” Paris said. “I often describe the feeling as similar to winning a ballgame when a student passes his test.”
Paris began teaching 25 years ago. “I was an active coach and counselor,” she said. “I have found those two skills essential in motivating and assisting my students.”
Paris believes many who fall behind in school settings are reluctant learners because they think they can’t do it.
“So my personal goal when working with my students is to build their confidence while advocating for them in their personal life,” she said. “To motivate myself, I also set a personal goal to graduate 500 students.”
She achieved that goal sometime last year and is setting new goals for herself.
The other thing she enjoys about teaching is the daily interactions with students and staff.
“Things are never dull. I really enjoy working with other educators who share similar visions and goals,” she said. “For example, the two class locations where I teach expose the student to the next natural step in their personal development. It’s very satisfying to send them off to the next level.”
Paris teaches at Indian Capital Technology Center from 8 to 11 a.m., Monday through Friday; and at the Tahlequah Workforce Center from 12:45 to 3:30 p.m., all weekdays other than Tuesdays. On that afternoon, she takes enrollment for classes at the Professional Development Center on Tahlequah Public Schools Central Campus.
“In addition to the ultimate goal of earning a GED, the GED program goals also include getting a job or going into postsecondary education or training,” Paris said.
Paris is helping all her current students complete their GEDs before changes in testing begin next year.
“Starting in January 2014, if you haven’t completed your test by passing all sections, you will lose the scores you currently have and will have to start over,” Paris said. “I encourage everyone in this situation to contact our office so we can help.”
The test will be computerized – not online – and the cost will increase from $65 to $120.
Teachers are often mentors and examples to those starting new careers in the field.
“A good teacher is one who connects with her/his students and has a good lesson plan,” Paris said. “They see what needs to be done and they do it. My advice to new teachers would be to get involved and jump in there.”
Paris’ grandmother inspired her to teach.
“The person who influenced me to teach was probably my grandmother, Loretta Wise. She taught at a school where most of the less affluent and more diverse students of the town attended,” Paris said. “I would go with her to set her room up or do whatever. As I got older, I could see that they truly loved the attention she would give them. She was big on praise. All that looked pretty good to me; however, I have to say I was more interested in physical education and sports, and I thought that’s what I would do.”
Parents also need encouragement in how to help their children succeed.
“My advice to parents is, do not give up on your child,” Paris said. “They will not be children for long, so be there for them in the good and bad times. That means you might be frustrated and have to struggle with the negative stuff.”
They may need you to accompany them to get started on their GED, she said.
As coach and athlete, Paris has seen the value in parental support. She graduated from high school in Ada in 1979, and from East Central University with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1984, and a Master of Science in Human Re-sources-Counseling in 1986. She married her husband, Kenny, in 1987, and they’ll celebrate their 25th anniversary this year. Daughter Melanie, 19, is a sophomore at Oklahoma State University; son Alex, 15 is a freshman at Tahlequah High School.
Tahlequah is a great place to live, she said.
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