Lydia is a young person with one of those infectious smiles. Her outgoing personality has served her well in customer oriented jobs—as a dishwasher, barista, bartender and, now, as a counter person at the deli and market in Grafton, Vermont. Lydia is also a newly-minted high school graduate.
“I love working there,” Lydia said. “It’s busy—a GOOD busy!”
Lydia, age 22, was born in Da Nang, Vietnam. She was adopted with her twin brother by a Vermont family when they were eight months old. She attended her local public high school. Health struggles impeded her ability to thrive. She was skipping school and even when she was in class, she was not feeling motivated.
“My guidance counselor asked if I’d be interested in Vermont Adult Learning,” Lydia said. “I did that for a bit, stopped, went back again, stopped again, and went back again. I needed to take a break and, when I reached out to Ashley Dailey (VAL Regional Director-Windsor), I asked, ‘Is it OK for me to come back?’ Ashley said, ‘It’s good to hear from you. Of course it’s OK to come back!’”
All of the credits Lydia earned previously remained in place. Ashley worked with her to craft a new high school graduation completion plan. Math was a bit of a stumbling block for Lydia. Then, she met VAL math teacher Gretchen Cowan.
“I’d never had a math teacher who really took the time to understand how I learned math,” Lydia said. “We were meeting two times a week. She’d find different ways to explain things if I didn’t understand. She’d make up practice tests. She was great.”
Lydia appreciated Ashley inviting her to think about what would be “different” during her renewed attempt to earn her diploma. Lydia embraced her studies in earnest. An online psychology course, an area of personal interest, proved to be her favorite class. She proudly earned an A.
“VAL helped me learn that when I really set my mind to do something—and it’s MY decision—I can really get it done,” Lydia said. “Before, it was everyone else telling me I should finish high school. I’m really proud of my math. Math was the one thing that took me until two days before graduation to complete! Working with Gretchen made a huge difference. I was never afraid to ask a question.”
Lydia participated in VAL-Windsor’s graduation ceremony in August. Her brother, who serves in the military, traveled all the way from Hawaii to celebrate his sister’s achievement
“Ashley checked in with me a few months after graduation,” Lydia said. “I’ve been thinking about social work and taking classes at CCV. Ashley said she can help me with this. People should know VAL is very open to hearing how you learn and willing to try to make that work for you. I really like to write more than I read. So, for English I read a few poems and wrote about them, but my final project was an essay. I especially liked the 1:1 teaching and small classes. When I was at my high school, I didn’t really speak up in class.”
“Lydia was a pleasure to work with,” Gretchen said. “She would meet me for class on a Friday afternoon (not everyone’s preferred math hour!) with a big smile, ready to focus and give it her all. Lydia stuck with our math work even when there were setbacks, and tackled it all with a contagious positive attitude.”
“Working with Lydia was always a bright spot in my week,” Ashley said. “She brings a positive energy and zest for life when she walks in a room–or joins a video call for remote class! I am grateful that I was able to witness her set an important goal for herself and achieve it. Lydia is destined for big things.”
VAL is recruiting new students. Visit www.vtadultlearning.org or text VAL to 833-900-0907 to get started!