By Martha Clark
“I was jumping like a kangaroo,” Malana Smith said when she learned she had passed the final section test of the GED®.
The 20-year-old started at ACE in October 2019. She was discouraged because she had tried other GED® classes and found there was little teacher support or help outside of the online computer program and the book she was given.
“I stopped going because I wasn’t making progress. When I looked on the ACE website and saw there were teachers, tutors, a principal and support. I decided I’d give classes another try.”
Malana thanks many people at ACE for her success. “All the teachers genuinely care. Everyone from the principal to the people at the front desk and all of my teachers encouraged and supported me.
“The teachers work with you,” the recent graduate said. They treat you like an adult. The teachers never judge you. The students never judge you. Everyone is in the same boat.” One of the big differences between ACE and a regular high school is there no such thing as the “popular group,” Malana explained. “Everyone is here to do the same thing and is working toward the same goal. There is a huge support group for the students!”
“Mrs. Weiland worked so hard to help me in Language Arts. She printed out worksheets, figured out exactly which lessons I needed and taught me. Ms. Walker helped encourage me. She would call me out and encourage me if I procrastinated. Mr. Owens helped me in math. There wasn’t anything I needed he couldn’t help me understand. The teachers always cared about me. The genuine care is above and beyond at this school!”
While at ACE Malana worked with Career Pathways Adviser Mrs. Jones and took tours at Lively Technical College. These helped her realize she wants to be a pastry chef.
Now that she has her high school diploma, Malana is enrolling in the Baking and Pastry Arts program at Lively Technical College. In the meantime, she has started her own cake business named Cho’s Cakesmith. The name was inspired by how blacksmiths got their name because of what they did and her own last name. Malana likes to call herself a “cakesmith” and photos of her tasty art (and a number to order them) can be found on her Facebook page Cho’s Cakesmith!
“Don’t be scared,” Malana says to anyone considering whether to start the GED® classes or not. “Believe in yourself and don’t say you’re never going to pass. I was that student that was scared I wouldn’t pass, but when I didn’t my teachers helped me find the courage to try again!”