By JUSTIN STORY, The Daily News, email@example.com/783-3256 Friday, December 9, 2011 11:54 AM CST
Joseph Worley has learned a lot behind bars and hopes to get a new lease on life whenever he is released from Warren County Regional Jail. By attaining his GED diploma, Worley, 30, feels he is on the right track after a series of wrong moves. “I’ve got two small children and I want them to follow in my footsteps,” said Worley, who along with seven other inmates, received his GED certificate Thursday in a ceremony at the jail library. “I want to make something out of my life.” Dressed in blue gowns and caps with gold tassels, the new graduates celebrated completing a GED program provided for inmates by Bowling Green Technical College’s adult education program. The grant-funded program has been available to inmates here for more than 20 years. According to corrections instructor Lyndell Graven, an adult education instructor from BGTC, 19 inmates have completed the GED program since the end of June. Of those 19, eight took part in Thursday’s ceremony because the other inmates have either been released or transferred to other facilities. After marching into the library to “Pomp and Circumstance,” BGTC and jail officials congratulated the graduates on their accomplishments while urging them to continue their education after being released. “You’ve taken a step, you’ve earned your GED and you’re proud of yourselves and your family’s proud of you, but let’s not stop at step one,” Warren County Jailer Jackie Strode said. “I don’t want you to stop today with your GED. That’s very important, but I know there’s more you can do.” Gerald Napoles, dean of student affairs for BGTC, reminded the graduates that they have options for continuing their education, saying that most colleges and technical schools will accept people with GED diplomas who meet the credentials for enrollment. Napoles encouraged the graduates to seek available grant funding if they want to continue their education. He then told the inmates to believe in themselves, set goals, work at achieving them and enjoy their accomplishments before moving on to find other opportunities. “It’s hard to balance getting an education with all the things people face and you have additional challenges, so this is a great accomplishment,” Napoles said. Inmates volunteer to take part in the GED program and are allowed to complete the program as they have time to do so. Classes are held three days a week year-round in math, reading, writing, science and social studies. Inmates have homework assignments on days when they are not in class. To earn a GED diploma, students must pass a comprehensive test in each subject. Students can score up to 800 points on each subject, and a score of 410 is considered a passing grade in each subject, although a cumulative average of 450 is required to pass the test. The jail hosted a graduation ceremony in June and normally honors new graduates once a year, but Graven said that enough inmates completed the program since the beginning of the new fiscal year in July to warrant a ceremony Thursday. Worley, who has served more than one year of a five-year sentence for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, said he began his GED classes at Northpoint Training Center in Burgin and continued the program after being transferred to Warren County in April. Worley has done masonry work and other odd jobs and is scheduled to go before the parole board in September. Worley said he hopes the GED will help open up more opportunities for employment when he is released.