BELEN—The Belen Public Library has announced a new program for those seeking to earn their high school diploma.
The program, Career Online High School, offers accredited high school diplomas as well as career training resources and certification for adults 19 and older.
Kathleen Pickering, the director of the Belen Public Library, said Career Online High School is a nation-wide program being brought to local residents through a partnership between the library, the New Mexico State Library and Gale, a library resource provider and a Cengage company.
“This program is an online platform in which people can complete their high school diploma and receive a career certification. It’s different from a (GED) in that it’s an actual diploma,” Pickering said. “You just don’t take a test — there’s a curriculum.”
Depending on where a person halted their high school journey, they can get a transfer equivalence evaluation and bring credits from the high school when you left.
People who are interested in attaining their high school diploma will have to go through a four-stage process before their admitted into the program. The first step is to complete the online self-assessment.
The second step is to enroll in the first part of the program — a two-week prerequisite course for the career they want to pursue. Areas of career study including certified protection officer, child care and education, commercial driving, food and hospitality, general career preparation, home care professional, Homeland Security, hospitality and leisure, office management and retail customer service.
The third step, the library will contact you to schedule an interview date and discuss your application into the program.
“The interview will take place with Nicole (Evans, youth and young adult librarian) and myself to see if you’re serious about completing your degree,” Pickering said. “If the interview goes well, they’ll be admitted.”
Once admitted to Career Online High School, the library will provide them with a scholarship to enroll. They will be assigned an academic coach who helps them what courses to take and offer support.
“We provide the resource of computer access and the internet, but Gale Cengage provides the educational resources and personnel,” Pickering said.
Evans said each student has 18 months to complete the course, and could be finished in as little as five months depending on how many courses a person can complete and transfer in.
Pickering said she became aware of the program from the late Dana Bowley, who was a computer specialist at the library.
“He had heard about it and attended some information courses on it, and he encourage the state library to adopt this program,” she said. “We thought we could do it on our own, but the platform is very expensive. Now the state library decided to make it a program.”
Not only did the state library adopt the program, they are providing matching funds. When the library raises enough money for one scholarship, they state library will match it with another scholarship.
“We’ll have at least two scholarships, and it’s my hope to have at least four,” Pickering said.
The students will bear no expense for the program; it will be the library’s responsibility to raise money to fund the scholarships. The first scholarship, Pickering said, will be named for Bowley.
“There are people who are realizing they can’t move forward in their career and need a better job,” she said of the program. “With this program, they can do that.”
Evans said while the curriculum is high school level, the program is career-focused.
“The students are also required to make a career portfolio,” Evans said. “It will help them find the career they want, which will be helpful for their future.”
The Belen Public Library will begin recruiting for the Career Online High School on Monday, Jan. 19. For information on how to apply or to donate to the scholarship fund, call the library at 966-2600.
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.