Adult graduate stresses stay in school

Published 2:42 pm Wednesday, May 19, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Earning a high school diploma through Niles Community Schools Adult Education program has not only given Dawn Rouse some personal satisfaction, it has also proven to be an inspiration to others.
As a mother of two and a teacher's aide at Cedar Lane Alternative Education Center, Rouse's experience is teaching the students in her life how important a good education is.
Rouse, 36, along with 20 other students will officially receive their diplomas tonight at a graduation commencement ceremony.
Since November, she has been assisting high school age students with their homework and computer work as a para-professional in the learning center at Cedar Lane.
Cedar Lane principal and director of Niles Adult Education Rich Klemm said Rouse's good attitude and commitment to school has rubbed off on the students that she works with.
Pam Cross, the para-professional who works with Rouse in the learning center, said she has been a great co-worker and an inspiration for the students.
The students at Cedar Lane are also happy to have an instructor like Rouse to work with on a daily basis.
Rouse's hard times began in 1983 as a sophomore at a Rhode Island high school when she was set back due to medical problems. She was hospitalized and forced to play catch up in school.
Offering little support, a high school counselor pointed to the door and told her she always had the option of simply leaving school.
With a minimal amount of help from the school and a lot of work to do, Rouse decided to take the door, which was a decision she has regretted ever since.
She has long had a desire to go back to school and earn her diploma, but raising young children made it difficult to find time.
Rouse had a second child in 1997 and when her daughter got a little older, she decided it was the right time to begin taking classes.
After three years of sacrificing her weeknights to adult education classes, she is finally done and happy to now have a diploma.
The process was made easier by the consistent encouragement from her husband, Matt, her son, Brandon, 11, and her daughter Allyson, 6.
She said the great learning atmosphere of the school and the teachers of the program also helped to make the experience easier.
Rouse said she wants to continue to work at Cedar Lane and may pick up a college level computer course next year.
Being raised in a family that did not put a lot of emphasis on education, she is happy to have a plan in place for her children to maximize their educational opportunities.