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HSE Connect! works to provide information, guidance and resources to adults seeking their New York State high school equivalency diploma, as well as adults who seek to improve their core literacy skills.

The program is fueled by two program coordinators, Pam Hoffman and Amy Gonzalez, and a core of more than 25 volunteers.  Ms. Hoffman acts as the program lead; she fields all inquiries to the program, conducts student intakes, and oversees the training and coordination of our volunteer coaches. Ms. Gonzalez is both knowledgeable about HSE and is bilingual, so she acts as a coach for all Spanish-speaking students.

The majority of program clients work toward their diploma by using Essential Ed’s GED Academy, an online independent study program.  Our volunteers act as coaches -they monitor student progress, work with the students to assure sufficient content mastery, and provide encouragement to keep these adults moving toward their goal. Fundamentally, our program fills gaps in the adult education landscape. While students are actively advised to enroll in the free/low cost programs offered by BOCES and others, many students report that they cannot manage juggling between class schedules, work, and family commitments. Students who are sufficiently motivated to commit at least 5 hours per week find a home in our supported, independent study program.  Given a limited number of GED Academy seats and volunteer coaches, it is explained to students who cannot put in the time and effort (as assessed over a six week period) that they are welcome to return when their schedules allow.

Through mid-June, more than 50 Helpline inquiries were answered.  Our coordinators and volunteer pool coach more than 40 active HSE students who put in from 3-5 hours each week in study time using GED academy and additional study aids. (GED Academy study time in each quarter is close to 1,100 hours).  Additionally, our volunteers provide online literacy tutoring to eight adult students.

Two 2022 success stories illustrate the very different pathways we encounter:

  • A young man at the Youth Shelter of Westchester (a youth justice initiative) was counseled by Ms. Hoffman on how to obtain Regents credit that could serve as passing grades for GED subtests.  The student was able to apply all of his Regents, which meant he only had to take one subject test of his choice. He passed and has his diploma in hand.
  • An adult woman whose primary language is Spanish connected with ReadBetter in late 2019 for help with core reading skills.  She put in consistent effort with her tutor. This year she started towards her GED by passing the math subject portion of the test.  In her own words, “I will make appointments for all the subject tests in the following days to finish this adventure. I will inform you every step of the way. [She is using our Essential Ed program!] Thank you for helping people like me.”

We are doing the final proof of our HSE guide, which had to be substantially revised when NYSED announced the shift in late 2021 from the TASC exam to the GED test. Copies will be available this summer.  A Spanish-language translation will follow in the fall!

Monthly Zoom information sessions occur on the last Thursday of every month. To learn more, please visit www.firstfind.org/register, call (914) 231-2364 or email HSE@wlsmail.org.