UNT employee finds help in College of Education’s President’s EDGE program
Craig Stone, who works as a tech in the Facilities department, dropped out of school in the eighth grade.
But he's getting his high school equivalency diploma, or GED, thanks to the President's Employee Directed General Education (EDGE) program, which allows employees to study for their GED while working at the university. The President's EDGE began in September 2011 and supports one of university's Four Bold Goals to be a national leader in employee relations.
"It's an awesome program," said Stone, who agreed to talk to InHouse about his participation. "I just received so much encouragement and support."
Stone attended his first class earlier this summer.
"I was a little ashamed. I was 42 without a GED," said Stone. "I was nervous going into the first class."
Stone said he has been on his own since he was 14 years of age.
"School was in the background," he said. "It was about living and surviving. I meant to get back, but I never made it."
He worked in construction most of his life – with low-paying jobs lasting about three years. He began working at UNT 10 years ago.
He works in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning field, but that industry is growing more dependent on technology. Stone said getting a GED was important since he can't advance without a high school diploma.
He has raised two daughters, with the oldest studying fashion design at UNT and the youngest in high school. He has been a single dad for nine years, and has communicated to them about their finances.
"They know," he said. "They have seen the struggle."
But they've also been his biggest supporters.
"Both of my daughters are tutoring me, which is bizarre for me," he said. "Both are really enjoying it."
Stone takes classes two days a week in the mornings and evenings.
The President's EDGE program works around the participants' shift schedules, said Carol Revelle, program director and College of Education lecturer. They have four morning and four evening classes.
"We have one class in the evening with only one participant because that's the only time he can come," she said. "We do go to extreme lengths to make sure everyone can come."
About 30 participants are currently taking classes in the summer session. The process can take one to three years. So far, no one has finished their coursework yet. A couple of participants will finish soon, while some participants will take several years to learn both English and the content.
"We're getting participants at all levels," Revelle said. "It takes different amounts of time for each individual."
The President's EDGE is accepting donations of gently used books and magazines that are highly engaging for adult participants.
Donations from the annual faculty and staff giving program, We Care We Count, also support the program.
When Stone earns his GED, he hopes to apply for a supervisor position – and then maybe take a few courses at UNT. He encourages employees to participate.
"Don't worry about it – go do it," he said. "No one is looking down on you."
Originally posted August 6, 2012 on InHouse.
Story by Jessica DeLeón, URCM
Photo by Michael Clements