Literacy Student and Volunteer Earns GED

Pictured are Cazenovia Library Literacy GED grad Becky Phillips with her sons Damian and Ryan.

Cazenovia Public Library News

By Cindy McCall

(Cazenovia, NY – March 2013Becky+Phillips+and+sons) Cap and gown, balloons and cake, congratulations and lots of photo-taking:  the party looked like many other graduation celebrations.  However, the gathering held recently at CazCares Food Pantry was not the usual high school graduation party.

Cazenovia Library staff, CazCares staff and volunteers, Board members, fellow literacy volunteers, friends and family all turned up to cheer the achievements of Cazenovia resident Becky Phillips, who recently earned her GED (high school equivalency) through the Cazenovia Public Library Literacy GED program.

Phillips is a familiar face at Cazenovia Public Library, where she and her children are regular patrons of library programs and services.   In addition, the family was often in attendance at library-run literacy programs at CazCares, where Phillips worked as a volunteer at Cazenovia Library’s early literacy program, the Story Room at CazCares.

As part of the CazCares celebration, Library Director Betsy Kennedy presented Phillips with a letter of thanks for her many hours of volunteer service.

Phillips enrolled in the GED program last fall with the help of Literacy Coordinators Carla Zimmerman and Cindy McCall.   Phillips felt the time was right to get her GED and find a job, as her children were getting old enough to be more independent.   Throughout her months of study and tutoring, she still managed to maintain her volunteer hours at the Story Room.

“Becky is exceptionally good with both children and parents,” said literacy coordinator Carla Zimmerman.  “As a drop-in program with a monthly attendance of more than sixty preschool children during the school year, we always need volunteer help.  Becky has been one of our most capable and dependable volunteers.”

The mother of four children, Phillips had been out of school for 14 years.

“I was sure it would take me a long time to get ready for the GED,” Phillips said.  However she and her Cazenovia Library tutor, Julie MacWilliams, found that they could cover the groundwork for the GED in three months.

“Becky is an avid reader,” said MacWilliams. “Reading has expanded her life experience and allowed her to succeed very quickly as a student and rapidly reach her academic goals.”

MacWilliams began tutoring for library GED programs after training to be a literacy volunteer through Madison County Reads Ahead.  Cazenovia is one of eight public libraries in the Mid-York system that offers free adult literacy programs, including GED tutoring.

In addition to GED, library programs provide tutoring services in Adult Basic Education and ESOL.  Cazenovia Library Literacy is unique among Madison County libraries in that educational programs are offered not only on-site at the library but also at two satellite locations, CazCares Food Pantry and New Woodstock Public Library.

Phillips lost no time between earning her GED and finding employment.  She found a job as a full-time nursing care assistant, and plans to continue her education in the health care field.

“Becky will reach any goal she sets for herself,” said Gigi Redmond, CazCares Director.  “We are proud to be a small part of her success.”

Library literacy programs are always open to new learners.  For more information about GED programs, please call Cazenovia Public Library Literacy at 655-9322.


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