Elk Grove Adult and Community Education
At the age of 16, Terri Halterman dropped out of high school in Manteca to marry and raise a family. She soon came to know her new husband as an abusive alcoholic who isolated her from her family and friends. By age 19, she was a mother and a divorcee. A single parent without a high school diploma, she worked minimum wage jobs, with half of what little she made going toward childcare.
Terri married again in 1986. A year later she gave birth to prematurely born twins. They spent months in the Stanford University Hospital Intensive Care Nursery. Even after they came home, Terri recalls being overwhelmed with the two very fragile babies. “I basically became a nurse.” Divorced a second time in 1989, Terri moved to Sacramento, once again a single parent, but this time she had three children to raise on her own, two with disabilities.
To help make ends meet, Terri started her own Mary Kay business and did housekeeping, but she never quit working toward one very important goal – passing the GED. She desperately wanted to earn her own diploma before her oldest son graduated from high school. There were always obstacles; no transportation, no childcare, no time, or simply no class. At one point she was attending a class and went in one night to find strangers in the classroom. The GED prep class had been canceled due to lack of participation. It was discouraging, but she pressed on, finding out about Elk Grove Adult and Community Education (EGACE) by accident when she drove her son's friend to his GED class.
Terri joined Dan Davis' GED Prep class at EGACE in 2002. That she was the oldest student in class came as no surprise, but she was taken aback by the behavior or the younger students. She wondered if she could continue, and met with the principal to express her concerns. She did continue, more determined than ever to finish her program. She studied every night at home, staying up late after the kids were in bed, whether or not homework was assigned. This was finally her chance to accomplish her long sought after goal. In a few months, she did; passing the GED and showing her children how important it is to finish school.
Besides the GED class, Terri took a general office clerk and medical billing and coding class. At the same time, she started working as a student intern in EGACE's Instructional Support Office. She passed the Instructional Assistant test and began working in the ESL computer lab as an Instructional Assistant. Since then she's been working full-time as a Staff Service Technician for EGACE. She worked for more than a year with inmates at the Sacramento County jail locations. Jennifer Barrett, a resource teacher at Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center, praised Terri for her respect, kindness and reliability, remembering that “if Terri promised [the inmate students] something, she'd come through for them. She built trust in an environment where, historically, trust is lacking.”
Terri's is now back at the main school working as a Technician in the Distance Learning and High School Diploma programs. She also assists with data and testing and whatever else she can, and is an invaluable member of the Elk Grove Adult and Community Education team.
In the short term, Terri sees herself staying with EGACE, taking some college classes and studying Spanish. In the long term, she would like to work with female inmates again, particularly ones who are serious about changing their lives for the better. Terri is an example to students, coworkers, friends and family, and she is proud to say that all three of her children are high school graduates.