A Tucson woman's recent start-up has a special take on the teaching experience, proving not everyone fits the mold of modern high school.
Karen Burgan's work inspires the spirit of learning.
"We all share our commitment to this vision," Burgan said. "We're all very dedicated."
A life-long educator, she supports students as they discover their dreams.
"It's a long, hard, challenging journey," Burgan said. "For those who persist and don't give up and get to the end, it's so worth it."
Burgan's non-profit organization, Soar With The Eagles, prepares those striving to get a GED. Her program, started nearly a year ago, provides a one-on-one, affordable tutoring experience.
She said in many situations, this approach is essential for success.
"A lot of returning students are intimidated about going back into a classroom setting," she said. "There are reasons why they left a classroom setting."
Angela Ho, who is part of the program, is taking tests to earn her GED. For her, traditional high school isn't ideal.
"I've always had trouble with math, and math was my biggest struggle in high school," Ho said. "I had a teacher that wasn't helping me understand everything."
Angela isn't alone. Though graduation rates went up last year, 1.5 percent of Tucson Unified School District students still dropped out of high school in 2015.
With this personal support, Angela is thriving.
"It feels good because I have friends who experience the same thing as me," Ho said. "And I'm able to tell them you can do it."
Burgan hopes Soar With The Eagles will open new doors for more people in these same situations, allowing anyone to grasp any goal.
"I am so proud of them. Sometimes I get teary-eyed. They didn't give up," Burgan said. "That, I think, says the most about their character."
More than 40 students are currently part of the Soar With The Eagles program. Most of their tutors are volunteers, but they do offer paid tutor opportunities to GED graduates.
According to The Arizona Department of Education, 2,218 people have taken tests to earn a GED through February so far in 2016. 748 of them completed the exams, with 457 passing. This equates to a 61 percent pass rate.
For more information on education, tutoring opportunities, or to donate to their cause, contact Karen Burgan at 520-360-7869 or SoarWithTheEaglesTutoring@gmail.com.
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