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Breaking down barriers in adult education, one family at a time

Going back to school to finish a high school diploma is hard. But for this family, they're doing it together.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Here in Maine, there is an 86% high school graduation rate in rural counties. But in more populated counties, the graduation rate is 92%.

So at the Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative in Dover-Foxcroft, they are trying to educate adults in rural areas.

"Dropped out of school at 15. Had my first child at 16," 43-year-old Alicia Salley said. "I’m a jack of all trades – master of none, because of no diploma."

So now she’s working to finish her diploma at Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative. Alongside three of her six kids who are also finishing their degrees.

All four of them say the biggest reasons for putting off finishing high school is not being able to find childcare or reliable transportation.

Salley says it's a little disappointing for some of her children to have also dropped out of high school, but exciting for them to all be doing this together.

But with this program, program director Thelma Regan says they are flexible. And flexibility makes it easier for students to work at their own pace.

"It’s easy for me to go to school one day a week," Salley's daughter, Jasmin Hanson said.

Regan says there’s something special about adults going back to school.

"They hold their head up differently. Their body looks different. Their walk is more confident. You see that right away," she said.

Salley says this is her time to finish school, "I have pulled nine credits in nine months," she said proudly.

She says she is most looking forward, "to have my mom be there."

For this family, it’s a family affair.


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