How Goodwill's Adult High School Provides Tuition-Free Diplomas — And Changes Lives | St. Louis Public Radio

How Goodwill's Adult High School Provides Tuition-Free Diplomas — And Changes Lives

Jan 8, 2020

There are approximately 500,000 adults in Missouri without a high school diploma. In 2017, to help mitigate that setback, then-Gov. Eric Greitens signed a measure that called for the opening of alternative high schools for adults, and Goodwill won the contract. 

The Metropolitan Employment Rehabilitation Services Goodwill established four Excel Centers across the state, in Springfield, Popular Bluff, St. Louis and Columbia, in 2018. The program is an alternative tuition-free high school that helps adults over the age of 21 earn their high school diplomas. The four centers have roughly 900 students combined. 

In St. Louis, the center on Locust Street recently had 47 students complete the program and cross the stage; the first commencement included six students. 

Jadee Lauer (at left) and Victor Tenn joined Wednesday's talk show to discuss the Excel Center in St. Louis.
Credit Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske learned more about the program and its vision for 2020. Joining the discussion were Jadee Lauer, St. Louis Excel Center director, and Victor Tenn, a recent graduate of the program. 

Was the experience like being back in high school? “No, not really. And that’s a good thing — no drama,” Tenn said lightheartedly. “A lot of people [and the Excel Center] are willing to help each other and ask for help.”

Students are assessed to see where they start and are placed in classes that fit their needs and schedules. To help make the rigorous program work, the center offers free child care, life coaches for each student and post-graduation counselors, in addition to transportation assistance. 

Listen to the full discussion: 

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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