Feb. 29, 2016

By Jana Carver

Katrina Partee (left), a student at Guilford Technical Community College, role plays with fellow classmate Tasha Martin (right), who is portraying a patient during a class exercise. (Jana Carver/GTCC)

GREENSBORO, N.C. – In a classroom on Guilford Technical Community College’s Greensboro campus, seven women have found the confidence and support they need to achieve their goals.

Natalie Dodd, Melissa Fletcher, Sharlene Hayward, Maricruz Hernandez, Brooke Locklear, Tasha Martin and Katrina Partee are enrolled in the Basic Skills Plus — Nursing Assistant (NA) Track program at GTCC.  The 20-week program allows students to earn their GED while simultaneously gaining the skills necessary in order to pass the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification exam.

Of the seven students enrolled, five have already passed all portions of the GED, and the two remaining students are not far behind. The entire class is only three weeks away from completing the entire Basic Skills Plus program.  They’ll graduate on March 23.

“This program provides opportunities to people who probably don’t know an opportunity exists,” said instructor Jean Miller-Levette, who has been teaching in the program since its inception in spring 2015.

This was the case for Hayward, 45 of High Point. She originally came to GTCC for her GED and learned about the program after her first attempt at the GED tests.

“I wasn’t successful in the math portion, but, while I waited the 60 days to retake it, I learned about this program,” Hayward said.

Hayward wants to go into human services technology with a focus on substance abuse and mental illness. She was eager to join a course that would allow her to obtain her GED and gain career skills at the same time.

“I remember where I came from, where I used to be … I was in some dark places, once upon a time,” she said. “Now, I want to help others get out of those dark places.”

Sharlene Hayward, a student at Guilford Technical Community College, participates in a class exercise as part of her nursing assistant training at GTCC. (Jana Carver/GTCC)

Sharlene Hayward, a student at Guilford Technical Community College, participates in a class exercise as part of her nursing assistant training at GTCC. (Jana Carver/GTCC)

The promise of being able to go into the workforce almost immediately after completing the course initially drew Hayward to the program. But what she didn’t expect to find was the support within the program. It’s motivated her to keep going.

“The biggest part is how at the beginning, we all encouraged each other. Now it’s like I have an extended family,” she said.

Part of that extended family is her classmate, Fletcher, a 26-year-old mother of four who always said she would go back to school. When she was a teenager, she prioritized her newborn son over her own education, but she promised her father she would finish school one day. When her father died in 2009, that promise became even more important.

“I promised myself that I would keep my promise to him, whether he was here or not,” said Fletcher of Greensboro.

Fletcher recently sent her youngest son to preschool, and it was the newfound freedom that came with having an empty house that finally allowed her to return to school.

“I decided to do it now because while they’re in school, I can be in school, too,” she said.

Fletcher’s inspiration comes from her four boys. As she prepares to complete the program by taking the GED tests and the CNA exam, her children keep her focused on her goal. To her, it is important that they see her do this.

“I want to show my kids that you can always go back and do things,” she said. “It’s never too late.”


The next Basic Skills Plus – NA Track program will begin March 7. To register, or for more information, contact the GTCC Adult Education Intake Office at (336) 454-1126, ext. 55087.