Seeds Celebrates GED® Grads & Volunteers

Seeds of Literacy congratulated GED® graduates and celebrated volunteers at its Graduation and Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on June 29th.

Held at the Centers for Families and Children’s Mandel Community Room on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, the location was the perfect spot between Seeds’ established west side location and ever-growing east side site. This was Seeds’ first graduation ceremony since 2013, the last class to pass with the previous version of the GED test. From January 2014 through June 2016, Seeds has had 27 GED grads.


“This is an achievement.”

New to this year’s event was the inclusion of students who have passed individual sections of the GED exam but not yet completed the whole test.

Site Coordinator Chris Richards spoke to the audience of over 100 volunteers, graduates, students,  and friends about the commendable progress these students have made.

“I’ve seen a good number of students who didn’t believe in themselves when they walked in the door, but they walked in anyway. Students who told me they were dumb, even as they proved how smart they were. Students who talked down about themselves even as they worked to raise themselves up.

“But you’ve kept coming. You’ve stayed the course long enough to pass at least one section of the GED. That’s an achievement, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

Section-passers, wearing a pin for each subject they’ve passed, stood for a round of applause.


Graduation: A Lifetime in the Making

After section-passers were recognized, Seeds of Literacy’s graduates made their entrance. The graduates have worked hard for months, often years, for this night.  It’s impossible not to cheer when seeing the beaming faces of the graduates, donned in cap and gown, as they enter to “Pomp and Circumstance” in front of their families and volunteers who have supported them on their journey.

“I’m here to say a few words to the graduates of the Seeds of Literacy GED program,” declared Ed Round, a tutor at Seeds’ Kinsman location, in his graduate address. “These are the few words: I’m proud of you.”

He added, “There is something more important than me being proud of you, however. That something is that each of you should be proud of yourself.”

And the grads were, rightfully so! Moreover, they were supportive and celebratory of each other.

After thanking Seeds of Literacy’s tutors and staff, graduate Cristaly Martinez closed her speech with a message to her fellow grads who had come so far. “To all the graduates,” she said, “congratulations! I know how tough it was, so if nobody has told you this, I am super proud of you.”


Recognizing Seeds’ Incredible Volunteers

Volunteer Coordinator Alexandria Marshall spoke about how vital volunteers are to Seeds of Literacy’s mission to provide free one-to-one education to adults. “Working together with our students, tutors bring our mission to life. Education and empowerment are seen daily in the classroom, disguised as conjugated verbs and reduced fractions. The hours that tutors donate equal lifetimes of better outcomes and possibilities for the students they help.”

In addition to tutors and individual volunteers who generously help with everything from accounting and data entry to workshops and events, Alexandria also recognized the five volunteer-based committees (Program, Community Relations, Finance, Fund Development, and Annual Brunch) that support the organization.

This year’s Outstanding Volunteer Award was given to Gene and Carol Dodaro for their work with Seeds of Literacy Program Planning and Impact Committee. Gene and Carol have created and run several supplemental classes to provide additional instruction to students in areas that are commonly answered incorrectly on reassessment tests. Their positive and enthusiastic outlook towards helping students was reflected in their acceptance speech, wherein they spoke about the importance of helping others.

Dolores Kirn received this year’s Arthur Zammikiel Tutor Award. The award is newly named for Art, who was a tutor with Seeds for 12 years before he passed away in 2014. Like Art, Dolores is an exemplary tutor whose patience and reassuring attitude have helped many students on their path to the GED credential.

Graduate Yoko Ferrell spoke about how Dolores encouraged her. “There were plenty of times where I was stuck with math,” she said, “especially those advanced equations — man, the longest math packet ever. I wanted to give up, but she wouldn’t let me.

“It’s safe to say that with her help and the help of so many other tutors (and those packets) that we are here today to receive our diplomas.”

Check out photos from the event below.


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