A year ago, Tierra Lewis was enrolled in a GED class at an area community college, but feeling far from her dream of starting her own childcare business.
“It just didn’t work for me,” says the mother of a daughter, age 11, and son, 6.
Just by chance, Tierra passed by the Literacy KC offices on Armour Blvd. in mid-town Kansas City and stopped in. Later, she did a Google search for more information about what the nonprofit had to offer her.
“Cool beans, I’m for it!” she remembers saying, after reading about Ticket to Read and Family Reading Program classes. Tierra began right away by taking the Digital Life Skills prerequisite in Literacy KC’s computer lab before entering literacy classes.
She was also part of a student group who, with their children, attended Mayor Sly James’ summer reading event at the Sprint Center.
Today, Tierra is a pilot student in a new program called Career Online High School (COHS), a partnership between Literacy KC and both Kansas City and Mid-Continent Public Libraries, along with Gale Cengage Learning of Michigan, a leading educational content company. The flexible online education curriculum is designed to help qualified students earn an accredited high school diploma while gaining real-world career training.
COHS scholarships for 25 students will be awarded this year. In addition to a high school degree, accredited by AdvancedED/SACS, recipients can work toward earning a career certificate in one of eight fields, designated as high-growth and high-demand. These areas include: Child Care & Education, Certified Protection Officer, Homeland Security, Food and Customer Service Skills, Office Management and more. Academic coaches will be paired with each student. Biweekly online seminars focusing on 21st century skills and monthly career webinars for job market preparation will help students even further.
Tierra’s first online class is Child Development, toward her certificate in Child Care & Education. “I’m learning about what’s behind interacting with children and how to actually be a business woman, from marketing to legal issues, for my own business,” she says.
Tierra’s next step will be to take the required courses she needs to obtain a diploma.
Her goal is to complete the program in nine months, about half the average estimated time. The goal appears to be an achievable one. Tierra is studying every weekday at Literacy KC from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., getting help from instructors, tutors and staff, as needed. In the evenings and weekends she volunteers as Boy Scout den leader for her son’s troop and for the childcare nursery at her church.
“I want to first run my own business in toddler education and daycare,” she says about her future. “Then I’ll go on to be a social worker and help others.”