From left, Michelle Meckes, director of the Mansfield City Schools Mid-Ohio Aspire Adult and Workforce Education GED Program , Joe Mack and Dennis Snelson pose for a photo. Mack will graduate from the Mansfield adult educational program, Thursday. Snelson was his teacher.

MANSFIELD -- At 32-years-old, Joe Mack was tired of jumping through hoops to find a job worth keeping.

Thanks to the Mansfield City Schools Mid-Ohio Aspire Adult and Workforce Education GED Program, and six months of hard work, Mack has a high school equivalency diploma.

The partnership with the GED program and Mack was a chance happening, the soon-to-be graduate said.

"I went ahead and decided to check out a little email because I was just applying for online jobs here and there -- just trying to see if I can get my foot in the door, and then the offer for schooling popped up," Mack said. "I thought, what the heck? I can go ahead try to do what I can here and there."

Mack, who admitted he spent more time in the principal's office than his teachers' classroom while in school in Cleveland, walked to his adult educations classes everyday and rarely missed a class, said Mellissa Meckes, director of the adult education program.

"I've kind of made the sacrifice," Mack said. "That really makes success happen. Success took about six months." 

Meckes said Mack's dedication stood out most.

"We don't see a lot of students that are persistent for a six-month period," she said. "They'll start and then they'll get discouraged and then they might come back but for somebody to walk here every single day, regardless of the weather and say, 'this is something I want to do.'

"I mean, he was determined that he wasn't going to let this be a negative educational experience," she said.

His new degree adds a bit of comfort and gives Mack confidence, he said. 

"Now in case there's more than just a few sour grapes at the workplace, this thing could occur to me to get my foot in anywhere," he said, staring at his degree.

Mack referred to his lack of a high school diploma as an obstacle that made living difficult.

At Thursday night's graduation, he will join 115 other adults. Those graduates, Meckes said live in Ashland County, Crawford County and Richland County.

Meckes added her program participates in the state's new Adult Diploma Program (ADP) which caters to adult students without high school diplomas over the age of 22.

The free program partners with programs at the Madison, Pioneer and Ashland adult education offices and offers vocational training in welding, State Tested Nurse's Aaid, phlebotomy, precision machining/Computer Numerical Control technology, medical assisting, essential office technologies, basic office support searches. dental assisting and automotive lube and tire.

"Once they pass that class -- these classes can last anywhere from four weeks, six weeks to six to nine months, depending on which one they pick -- they get their high school diploma, and the Department of Education gives them a high school diploma along with a certificate," Meckes said.

She added about 20 graduates this year will come from the Adult Diploma Program.

Support Our Journalism

The most important part of education comes from the support of those outside the classroom. Being informed is the first step. Your support does that for the entire community we share.