When I came to Canada everything was different. You have to have education, which I didn’t have. So, I learned about the Dartmouth Learning Network and the G.E.D., and decided to go back to school. It was a good feeling. My hopes were high. I could not wait to get started. I was so excited that I was finally going to get the education I've always wanted. I was not nervous.
I get here every day well prepared for school and can’t wait for the next day to be in class. The teachers here at Dartmouth Learning Network are so amazing. They are doing a great job. I have met new friends who are nice. It’s very motivating. I’m glad to be here. I can’t turn back now – I’ve come too far from where I started and I just can’t give up.
While waiting for her residence status after immigrating to Canada in 2013, Stacy decided to be pro-active and begin preparing to enter the workforce. She searched for General Educational Development (GED) -prep programs online and found the Dartmouth Learning Network. While she felt confident with most subjects, she knew she needed help in the area of math. She contacted the Dartmouth Learning Network and enrolled in their GED math program.
“The location was perfect for me as it was an easy bus ride from my home,” says Stacy. “There was no cost to the program and they supplied work material and, from time to time, bus tickets to help me get there when needed.”
When asked what she liked most about the Dartmouth Learning Network, Stacy responded, “Everyone was so nice and friendly, but I would have to say that my teacher, Mary Moore, was the key to my success. She was so patient and understanding that I felt at ease and comfortable when asking questions. She always made it a pleasure to learn.”
“At times I felt like I couldn’t do it, especially with math being my weakness,” says Stacy. “But, with Mary’s help, I did it.”
Stacy is very proud to have achieved her GED. It has had a big impact on her and her family. “Now that I have my GED, it opens up so many employment opportunities. In fact, my present job as a commissionaire is a result of having my GED.The program has enabled me to have a job that I enjoy and has given me the opportunity to further my education, and contribute to my family.”
“It is my pleasure to share my story,” says Stacy. “I hope it will help to encourage others who may have doubt in themselves to take the program, and to realize their potential.”
Why did you register with Dartmouth Learning Network?
I was coming to a point in my life where I felt it was time to go back to school. But with my lack of confidence, I wasn’t sure where I could go or if there were programs out there for someone my age with learning disabilities. A close friend of mine suggested DLN; she went there and explained to me that it was a great program and that I should go. I called and met with some teachers, and the rest is history.
What do you like most about DLN?
Well, the first thing would be that the teachers are well aware and open to the fact that every person learns differently. I’m almost 100% sure there isn’t one teacher there who can't accommodate the different ways that people learn.
The second thing I like most about the program is that the environment is always positive. The positivity you feel there makes you feel like the sky is the limit.
The third would have to be that we don’t always learn in the classrooms. DLN has taken students on field trips, making learning about different things exciting.
How has your involvement with Dartmouth Learning Network benefited you, your community or your family in terms of increasing quality of life or satisfaction?
My involvement with DLN has benefited me in ways that no other school or program has ever done for me. My confidence went up. I am also no longer afraid to be a leader and I am now awaiting my acceptance letter for the level 3 Adult Learning Program at NSCC. That’s something I didn’t think would happen for a very long time. I now have a different perspective on life and I can express that to my family and friends in positive ways; I wouldn’t have that without my full participation at DLN. It even gave me a new perspective on doing volunteer work, something I didn’t care for before.
Is there anything about your program that you would like to see changed?
The only change I would like to see for DLN is expanding in other locations. I think that would be so beneficial and great!
Here is a short journey of my life. I was born and raised in a small fishing community on the West Coast of Newfoundland. I am the eldest of 4 siblings and the 2nd eldest of 40 grandchildren on both sides. I struggled through school most of my life. I had lovely, patient parents when growing up, and a non-violent home. I respected my elders. I was a shy, quiet girl who never got in trouble.
I was a high school dropout at the age of 17. I decided to move up to Nova Scotia with my aunt in 1988. I have a good life, I have been with my partner for 24 years and we have 3 handsome, wonderful, active boys. Life is good!
Now that my children are getting educated, I thought it was time for this stay-at-home mother of 16 years to do something for herself. I wanted to upgrade my forgotten skills. I began searching the Internet and came across the Dartmouth Learning Network. I picked up the phone and asked for information. Mary Moore set up an appointment. I was tested. She said I'd probably be starting in her level 2B class in September of 2012. I was a little nervous at first but I'm glad to be here. The teachers are awesome, and the students are fun to be around. It is such a positive place to be. Yours truly, Allison R.
From grade 1-4 I was a straight A student. I loved school and never caused any trouble. When grade 5 came around, I had a teacher who was very strict and would take me in the hall and yell at me for not doing my homework. I was scared of her. I would refuse to get out of my pajamas to go to school if I didn’t have my homework done. From that year on I did not like school at all, even though most of my teachers since then were nice.
In junior high, I started hanging out with the wrong crowd, and skipped school constantly. For 2 years, that was my life and only hobby. When the teacher walked around handing out school work, she would walk past me and not give me a sheet, knowing I would not do it anyway. I wasn’t causing any trouble or disturbing the class so they didn’t kick me out. That year in grade 9, there was a math test every child in Nova Scotia wrote. I got the 3rd highest score in the school on it. On my report card that year I got a 0 in math.
In September of 2012 I became a learner at the Dartmouth Learning Network. I am now in the level 2B class, and also have a mentor to help me with my math. I getting ready for my grade 12 Adult Learning Program at NSCC, which hopefully will lead me to a trade and a comfortable life, without financial problems. I’m trying my best to be a success in life, and having a lot of fun doing it.
Hi, my name is Debby D. I moved back home about four years ago from Calgary with my son Luther. It was only for a visit but I decided to stay and help my mom with my dad and help my daughter with her son.
I needed something to do in my spare time so I decided to go into a program called Women Unlimited. It was a great program - very positive and the teacher was very inspiring. After I finished, I took an Oil Burner Trade. When I finished my Oil Burner Trade, I didn't feel comfortable with doing it because I didn't have my grade 12 so I decided that the next trade I took I would get my grade 12 first. So here I am ready and willing to learn at the Dartmouth Learning Network.
After I get my grade 12, I plan to go to Culinary School. When I was a young girl growing up, I always enjoyed cooking and planning menus for my family and for special occasions. Cooking is my passion and I just pray to God that He will give me the knowledge that I need to move to the next chapter in my life.
I was born in St. Anthony, Newfoundland. I lived in a fishing village until I was six. Then my mom and dad moved back to St. Anthony. My dad got work at the fish plant. I started school in September in St. Anthony. I had already done grade 1 in the fishing village. I told the teacher and principal that I already did grade 1, but they didn't believe me. I did grade 1 over again. From grade 2 to grade 6, I failed every year and I would be doing the same grade over. Then they finally put me on to the next grade.
The last year in school, I started in September and in October I had German measles. When Mom got the family allowance, mine was gone. The principal phoned in and got it cut off. Then I quit school.
I didn't have a good childhood growing up. It wasn't good at home or at school. I grew up with violence at home. My brother and I were very close growing up. I guess the reason was it was just the two of us. We had another brother and sister but my sister spent her time in the hospital. She didn't come home to stay until she was 7. Our brother died at 4 years of age. He just laid there and couldn't move, sit up, or talk.
At school the students looked down on me because I was poor and couldn't learn. I didn't think I could work because I was put down so much growing up. I did baby-sit and I wasn't fussy over that.
Then I got a cleaning job in St. John's, Newfoundland, working in the hospital. I worked there for awhile, then came home to draw my unemployment. I was home for awhile, and then I came out to Nova Scotia. I got work cleaning houses.
I was doing good here in Halifax. I met my husband here. He was from Newfoundland, too. We went home and got married. I had 3 children born there. I worked a couple of times at the shrimp plant on a work-mate program, but mostly I was a stay-at-home mom. My children grew up and are now on their own. I have 2 grandchildren, but you can actually say I have 3 grandchildren. I will always be nanny to them.
My husband and I came back to Nova Scotia and this is where we are staying. I was looking for part-time work, but couldn't find any. I went in to the Native Council, because I am part native. My case worker asked me about going to school. I said I didn't want to go but then I said yes. I'm happy I did. Now I know I can learn. I still have lots of trouble in math, but I am learning how to do it with Cathy's help. I went from level 1 to level 2. My level 2 teacher is Mary. The 2 teachers tell me I am smart. I didn't think I was because I was put down all the time. I did get a part-time job at the Native Council cleaning the offices. I am doing excellent at my job, according to my supervisor. She gives my report to Cathy, my Employment Readiness instructor.
I am happy I started school. I really enjoy going, and I have more friends now. I am going for my grade 12. With the teachers' help, I will get there.
By Elvida A.
I have lived in Dartmouth all my young life. My Family at the time moved to Cole Harbour from North End Dartmouth. It was a big change for me. I didn't like the people that lived out there. I was very happy in the North End. So when I went to school everyone was on a higher level than I was. The education was a lot more advanced than where I was. Also, I had a reading disability which made it harder for me to learn. I dropped out because I felt like school was too hard.
I ended up getting pregnant with my angel, as I call her. She saved me. I was a mommy. When I would look at her, she made me want to better myself. Then I got pregnant with my son. Nicole is so smart so I need to keep up with her. So I heard of Dartmouth Learning Network and I thought it was time for me to get my life back. The hours suited my mommy life.
My goals are to get my GED and/or my grade 12. From there I hope I really get to know my talents to start my career.
By Jessica B.
Hello. My name is Laura H. I was born in 1988 at the old IWK Grace Hospital. My parents got married when I was 2 years old. My mother was pregnant with my sister.
My childhood was good but we moved a lot so it made it hard to make friends. I went to so many schools it was hard to keep track of them all. I hated school because I was teased a lot. I was getting called fat, teacher's pet, and teased because of my speech and my clothing. I was also in the IPP program.
Then my mom and dad split in the year 2001. It was hard for my sister and me. So my sister and I tried to get them back together, but it never worked.
When I turned 16, I started my first job at Dairy Queen. Then I applied at the Country Inn & Suites during March Break and I got the job. I have been there ever since. I worked at Mark's Work Wear House doing seasonal work. Now I've worked at KFC for almost 4 years and the hotel for 7 years.
I moved out of my mother's place at age 18 but I turned 19 two days later. I had a roommate but it never worked out for very long.
I applied at Eastern College but the classes were too big for me. I learn hands-on. So I had to drop out of that school. My friend Karla looked up schools and she found the Dartmouth Learning Network. So I applied and I received a phone call from the school saying I got in. I have been there ever since that day. I enjoy the classes and teachers. I have learned so many things now.
My learning journey is hands-on and one-on-one with the teachers. I'm determined to get my life on track with no one bringing me down. For my future, I want a good-paying job and a career. I still haven't decided what I want to do yet. I was thinking about working with children but the pay isn't good. So we'll see what the future brings.
By Laura H.
My name is Mary-Anne. I grew up in Cook's Brook until I was 12. I went to Middle Musquodoboit Rural High until Grade 10. Then I thought I was smart to move with a friend to Sackville and finish high school in town. So I started going to Sackville High. I met lots of people there - too many people - and got side-tracked by hanging out with them and missing school. I eventually quit school.
When I was 18, I started back to school and started going every day. Then when I found out I was pregnant, I finished school as far as I could. Some of my Grade 11 was done. Then I moved to my mom and dad's in Meagher Grant. My mom helped me a lot with my son. I was living on my own, and had no transportation to go anywhere.
I started to look for a place to live in town where I would have access to a bus. I have been here three years now and last year I decided to go back to school and started attending the Dartmouth Learning Network. I am in Level two and really liking it. I am ready to learn now and am finding out that I am actually really good at math.
I was born in Ingonish, Victoria County and raised in St. Peter's in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I have five other siblings and my parents were married for 35 years. I fell out of school when I was 16 because I said to my mom that I couldn't stand going back with people who were mentally challenged and being hollered at by my classroom teacher.
When I turned 16 I moved in with my soon-to-be-husband and his family. He was 18. His parents had us get married when I became pregnant. At 25 I left with my two daughters and went back to my hometown of St. Peter's. When they turned 18, my daughters left home. Off they went to Alberta and had boyfriends. Soon after, in 2007, they made me a grandmother at 42, so that's when I moved to Dartmouth.
I live in supportive housing me, I have my own apartment. One of the counsellors asked me if I would like to go back to school in 2011. I'm in school now at Dartmouth Learning Network getting educated and trained for my grade 12 diploma. I also volunteer at the Dartmouth Learning Network as a Greeter for the evening GED Program and an office helper during the day. I live on my own and love doing things by myself every day and I've never been happier.
by Mona S.
In October 2011, Terry Wilson of Dartmouth was introduced to the Dartmouth Learning Network. He had attended many
programs throughout his life with little success. “I realized that if I wanted to improve my reading and writing this place was the only place that was going to help me,” says Terry.
For several years Terry has been a volunteer with the Halifax Chapter of Peoples First. Established in Nova Scotia in 1989 the goal of People First is to promote equality for all people who have been labeled intellectually disabled. When you ask Terry why he became involved his message is strong and clear – “I wanted to help close down residential institutions and help people live better lives and become more independent. I think living in a small group home is a better way to make this happen.”
Terry was and still is determined to “make change happen.” He has a plan and he is sticking to it. First step was to enroll in the Dartmouth Learning Network. Second step was to work hard to improve his reading and writing skills (Terry loves to write short stories that are often based on his life experiences and his friends). Third step was to become the President of the Halifax Chapter of People First.
Terry approached his classroom teacher, Cathy Cusack, and shared his goal with her. When asked what steps he needed to take to make his goal a reality, Terry without hesitation said “I need to write a speech and deliver it at the People First Annual General Meeting. Can you help me?” And so the journey to becoming the President of the Halifax Chapter of People First began.
“There was never any doubt that Terry would achieve his goal,” say Cusack. “Terry believes strongly in the cause of
People First. Helping him achieve his goal was simply a matter of working with him to put his words on paper, and then helping him practice delivering the speech in front of a group of people.”
In the fall of 2012 Terry Wilson stood before a group of people at the People First Annual General Meeting delivering a speech he had written and practiced with his classroom teacher. “Helping people understand People First is important to me and those who are part of our organization. I want to help to raise money and to bring in guest speakers. I want to work towards closing down institutions where large groups of people who have been labeled intellectually disabled live and move them into small group homes where they will have a better quality of life. I want to help remove the label intellectually disabled. We are all capable of learning and doing, for some of us it may take a little longer to get the job done. I am 59 and I am working hard to improve my reading, spelling, writing and math. I plan to work hard to make those changes happen and when I have done everything I can do here in Nova Scotia I would like to become President of People First Canada.”
In October of 2012 Terry realized his goal of becoming President of the Halifax Chapter of People First. With the help of an advisor he is learning how to lead meetings and create action plans and is enjoying his new role as President. Terry continues to attend classes at the Dartmouth Learning Network. “My teacher spends lots of time helping me, and because she helps me I can help others,” says Terry.
I was born in Halifax, and raised in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. My mother is from Cape Breton and my father from Dartmouth. My dad was a big idol of mine. He was the first Black firefighter in Nova Scotia.
I left school to go to work in grade 10, after repeating it for 3 times. I found out in 1999 that I had a learning disability. I worked two jobs for a long time as I had a small child to look after, but soon decided I wanted to restart my learning journey.
I started at Spell Read and here I am today at Dartmouth Learning Network learning more. To this day I have 3 kids. I have been with their father for 25 years this month. My goal is to learn as much as I can and walk away with my Grade 12. I want to have a good job to make my kids live the way I was raised.
As a young girl I was very inquisitive and a little dare devil, destined to look for adventure. It took me two attempts at getting grade ten, failing all my public exams in grade eleven and giving up on school, from lack of interest.
I then decided, to go to community college to get a trade in “Sewing and Dressmaking”, while working part-time at Kentucky Fried Chicken to pay for course supplies. I couldn’t seem to commit to anything. My course being nine months, I gave up at six months to join the Canadian Armed Forces. I had a five year career as a cook, went to the Canadian Forces School of Administration and Logistics twice for cooks courses and finally writing my interprovincial Red Seal at the University of Barrie, with an average of 71%.
From there, life changed. I got married, had two daughters, but still working as a civilian cook. Eventually, the government eliminated the civilian cooks position. I was forced to go into a cook’s assistant competition of 24 people, earning first place and getting a job at the Naval Officers Training Centre.
Finally in 1992 my family and I moved to Nova Scotia, transferring to the Stadacona Hospital. From there I went from job to job, never feeling fully satisfied that I didn’t finish school.
I gave up my last job to get my GED and found the Dartmouth Learning Network. I’ve never felt such self-satisfaction and am truly grateful for the teachers, tutors and volunteers at the centre.
I don’t know where I’ll go from here but I do realize now, how important an education is, and at 51 years of age, I’m never too old to learn.
Prosperity, gives all of us life’s rewards. If you focus on a goal, stay on that path and you will find success.
I feel no regret for my past, its taught me many lessons in life, and thanks to the Dartmouth Learning Network, my future can lead me in the right direction, taking with me all that I’ve learned, so now it’s up to me.
I started school in a culturally and racially distinct community. My reflections revealed a social and academic system rooted in flawed policies and social misperceptions centered on race and equality. Most of the teachers came to the class only because it was their duty, and paid little attention to the people they were supposed to teach.
I didn’t learn anything.
In addition, I was grouped in with older students, and since I was one of the brighter ones in the class, this often led to conflict with other students, both inside and outside the classroom. I’m a very motivated individual, when it comes to learning. I constantly asked for homework to improve my learning, but was essentially ignored by the teachers. While my experiences were largely negative when it came to learning, I did experience some glimmers of light as I moved on to another school, but these were, in the most part, due to the dedication of a few teachers who did not accept the status quo when it came to the racial divide.
Still steeped in the restrictive attitudes then in place, I, without consultation with me or my parents, was told when I completed Grade 9 that I would finish my academic education and would be going to Community College to “take a trade”. Everything had all been “arranged” and I could have my choice of a limited number of vocations for which the authorities “deemed him suitable”.
I finally decided on a printing career, and after a two year program, and despite a limited academic background, successfully graduated and started my career in the printing business. The training program at that time was largely a hands-on method, and computerization had not yet been adopted in this industry. I did not have any problems getting work and through my first two employers, who recognized my skills and my attitude toward work, even learned to improve my reading, writing and math skills.
Seeking to improve my lot in life, I headed to a large central Canada city and was able to very quickly secure employment with a local printing firm. My skills soon became evident to the owner, who told me that I knew more about the printing business than he did and quickly adopted my skill sets in running the business. I remained in this city for about 23 years. Marriage to a woman from my community and three children later, I wanted to return to my home province and seek employment in a quieter and friendlier place.
My giving this all up and moving back to NS was not without worry and fear. After a few months back home, and with aspirations to seek trades training in another area, I realized I would have to upgrade to a GED level in order to gain acceptance to a community college. Despite a nervous start, I have applied myself vigorously and am concentrating on areas where I know I have deficiencies.
Every story usually comes full circle, and I’m no exception. I continue to progress in GED, and, through a local employment initiative program with a cultural focus. Buoyed by an innate confidence built on my struggles, I am still a very positive individual. My interests, past and present, are deeply rooted in a spiritual belief and a passion as a musician. My focus now is on my relationship with my wife and children, particularly my older son, who is now involved in sports in the local community.
I admit that things have improved over the years with respect to social acceptance of the “culturally different”, but still experience some resistance and my great hope is that my children will grow up in a kinder and gentler world.
I know I will succeed in my latest journey of learning.
In 2003 I went to Dartmouth Work Activity Society also known as (D.W.A.S.). While I was attending there, I noticed I needed more academic learning time than the 3 days they had for us students. I asked the instructor if they had or knew of another place that they could provide me with a teacher who stands up in front of the class to teach students like a public school of some sort. He said yes, and I asked would I be able to attend there? They took me aside and set me up with a C.A.T. test to see if I was at the level in order to attend that program. The program I was told about was called the Cunard Center in Halifax. At the Cunard Center there was a teacher in the class present with you to teach the students the skills we needed to get our Diploma and to go further in life with our learning abilities so that we can move on an get a career or a job that fits our needs. The school was full time Mon-Fri so it gave the students more time to learn instead of only three days of academics. So when I was there I passed both levels 2,3 and then I moved on to the Flexible Learning Program also known as (F.L.E.C.) The good thing about that was it was in the same building so I never really had to travel too far.
As I was attending ( F.L.E.C ), I found out I had a son coming along. Then I got frightened by the news only because I was in school full time but they say when you panic things get messy so I didn’t. I just needed a job. I said to myself at the time that the program I went to was different hours. I noticed then that I was in a dilemma. I then had no choice but go to work and take care of my son only because at the time school would not feed my little one and so I did. After awhile I wasn’t making enough money and tried doing all these different jobs. In the meantime, I was hitting dead ends everywhere I would go. I said to myself I've got to go back to school to get somewhere better in life since I quit and haven’t finished receiving my Grade 12. I then tried everything in my power to do so.
I went to NSCC to set a testing date, and went to do the test and failed but that never stopped me. I tried all different things to get back in school and had not found any resources until one of the instructors at the NSCC mentioned the Dartmouth Learning Network to me and gave me the number to call so I did. I called and received a date to go in and talk to someone. I arrived on the day of my assessment and met Zoe, one of the coordinators and it went GREAT!!! I received a call about a week and a couple of days before my Birthday to say I had be accepted into the program. I was excited because of what I had done and tried to do and had not succeeded but they say if you give up you will be guaranteed to fail. So I want to let people know that if you proceed with your GOALS that ANYTHING is POSSIBLE. So PLEASE DO NOT GIVE UP, and if you are determined you will succeed just like practice does not make PERFECT!! It makes you SUCCEED in the finer things in LIFE. And now I am here at the Dartmouth Learning Network to do that. I started on my Birthday. How ironic is that!
I am still attending now on February 17, 2013. I have Classes Mon-Fri with a teacher whose name is Mary. She is GREAT also. If you want to go back to school this is the place to start. I would RECOMMEND this place to any person out there who really wants to. Please just stick to your goals, try hard and never give up because anything is POSSIBLE and don’t ever think in the long run that you are too old because I am 29 and I’m still going. BETTER LATE THAN NEVER!!!
I was born in Wolfville, Hant's County, Nova Scotia. Going through school was very hard. The teacher did not want to take the time to try things in different ways that I could understand or maybe just too much was going on at home. I had an older brother who seemed to always make high marks. I know he studied hard but was able to understand. I got my grade 8 and then I hitchhiked out when I was 17 years old.
I have always been able to get a job by talking to the people in charge. I feel that I need to learn today so that I may understand the world and its surroundings.
I first started to read about 2 years ago. I did this so I could read to my son. I found that it didn't matter if I read something wrong. After I would read a story I would call my friend for some of the words.
My goal is to get my GED. I think I will always have a problem with school. I learn different than most people, but I think there is hope if I keep on trying.
I was born in Halifax but grew up on Gaston Road from the age of 4 until 7.
When I was 7 I went to my first foster home so I moved schools that year and a lot more after that - when I was 8, 9, 10, and 11, and right up until I left school.
My mother has MS and found out she had MS when I was about 5 years old. It got worse when I was 10 so I was a bad kid. I got into a lot of fights and I had no time for school.
Now I am 28 turning 29 and I realize that I need a grade 12 to do anything that I would love to do. And I can't because I didn't go when I was young and now I'm here at Dartmouth Learning Network. I've been bit by the school bug because all I want to do is come back to school each day. I wish school was like this when I was young.
I thought that I knew everything and I was young and naive.
But here I am doing it right this time at DLN.
Mike Boutilier, an adult learner with Dartmouth Learning Network addresses the crowd at the Learning for Earning Rally on May 21, 2014 in Windsor, Nova Scotia. Over 120 supporters gathered to protest the federal government's funding cuts to literacy. The Rally was hosted by Hants Learning Network Association.