General equivalency degree (GED) preparation is now available at Key Center Library.

All supplies, including paper, pens and books are free. Unlike Tacoma Community College, there is no charge for the classes.

These lessons differ from those offered by TCC. Instead of following a strict format, each student will receive individual instruction tailored to meet his or her own needs. The library will have a whiteboard and English, mathematics, science and social studies will be offered. Three teachers have volunteered their time to teach the classes.

John Ellickson ran the GED program for the past three years for TCC on the Key Peninsula.

Ellickson, along with two instructors who worked under his direction, Jerry McCourt and Gary Gebo, liked teaching and joined him in looking for a new sponsor. They wanted to be under the umbrella of an organization. They found a willing supporter with Rosina Vertz, supervisor at the Key Center Library.

Ellickson has a degree in philosophy and an advanced degree in education and counseling, and has been involved with teaching for 35 years. He ran education centers on U.S. Army installations in Germany. After retiring in the mid 1990s, he worked as a real estate inspector.

“I never wanted to retire,” Ellickson said. “I’ve always loved the GED program and the test and the process of learning and education. I’ve always considered myself an educator.

“We’ll tutor anyone who comes in, not necessarily for GED, but anyone who wants to learn and finds our services useful,” he said.

McCourt taught English and critical thinking at TCC for 43 years. He has enjoyed teaching and he missed contact with students. He wanted to work with them more like a coach rather than in a structured setting, he said.

Gebo considers himself to be a self-esteem booster.

“Some people freeze when taking the GED or any other test. I try to go out of my way to give them a pat on the back,” he said.

The library has agreed to sponsor planning through the time frame of TCC’s spring quarter to see to see if there is an interest or need.

Classes will be offered Thursdays between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m., but scheduling times are negotiable and students can choose a time that works better if need be. Children younger than 16 must have a letter from the school district before they can attend. The average age of students in the past has been in the 20s.

The computerized GED test is not free and is offered by a private company.

For information on classes, contact Rosina Vertz at (253) 548-3309.

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