East Side Adult Educaton
Like many teens, Julie McGuire's high school experience was a struggle just to survive. Her grades were poor, she had attendance problems, and felt that her teachers ignored her. Lack of motivation and low self-esteem followed eventually forcing her to just give up and drop out. If Julie didn't feel encouragement in high school, she did have encouraging people outside. With the support of her husband and sister, Julie was encouraged to earn her high school diploma after enrolling in East Side's Independent Learning Center in 1993.
There were encouraging people at the Learning Center too. Teachers Steve Killey, Mary Gilbertson, and Anne Kirkpatrick, helped Julie to regain self-esteem and hope for the future. Paying attention to Julie and showing concern for Julie's well-being they helpled her to achieve more than she thought possible. She was the Independence Learning Center student body president in 1994 and 1995, and during her term the Second Harvest Food Drive set a record for donations to the needy. The following year, Julie received the Outstanding Achievement Award in Life Science, and in 1996 she was chosen to be one of the school's commencement speakers.
Julie made the best of what she feels was her "second chance" to earn her high school diploma. This time, instead of D's and F's, she earned A's and B's in a "supportive, stable, constructive, and caring environment," and graduated in 1996. With her new high school diploma, Julie started a very rewarding job working for a non-profit organization that helps the homeless. While still working at the shelter, she accepted a position at the Learning Center to substitute in the Social Science lab. One year later she was offered a permanent position, and tried for another year to juggle work at the shelter, work at the Learning Center, and classes at San Jose City College. Julie finally decided to work one job, at the Learning Center, while continuing her studies at SJCC. The decision paid off in an invitation to join the Honors Society an SJCC. Her plans are to complete her program at SJCC before transferring to San Jose State University to major in linguistics and earn a teaching credential. "I am doing quite well and intend on continuing to do my best at work and school," says Julie.
When she isn't going to school or working, Julie spends her time volunteering for the City of San Jose Parks and Recreation Department. For the last three years she has devoted nearly every Saturday to spending time with developmentally disabled and mentally ill individuals at the Grace Community Center. "It is extremely rewarding work," Julie says. "I have learned much about myself from working with the developmentally disabled."
About her experience as a student at the Learning Center Julie says, "Someday I hope to give back to my community by teaching to students at an Adult Education Program. I have many fond memories of teachers, office staff and aides that helped me pursue my goals of acquiring a high school diploma. I want to contribute to my community in a positive way by giving my support and personal experience to students that need encouragement. I want students to know that they can come back to school and get a high school diploma too. If they want to reach their goals they can do it. Achieving success at any level is possible when you have someone who believes in you. When I think of high school, I think of Independence Learning Center."