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Postcards From The Pandemic: GED Teacher Tells Student To 'Stay Motivated'

Tiffany Butler teaches GED classes at Vocational Guidance Services, a career development center on Cleveland’s East Side.

The coronavirus has put in-person classes on indefinite hold. So Butler has been reaching out to her students at home, encouraging them to keep up with their studies.

On a recent afternoon, Butler called Alana Miller, a resident of the Woodhill Homes public housing neighborhood. Miller is in recovery from a stroke she suffered a few years ago, and wants to get her GED as a first step toward opening her own catering business.


Tiffany Butler (TB): Hi Miss Miller. Alana Miller (AM): Hi Miss Butler.

TB: How you doing since this break?

AM: (laughs) Fine. I miss class!

TB: I’m so glad — I miss you all too. So have you been by chance looking at your books?

AM: Yes I have.

TB: OK, that’s good.


Tiffany Butler checks in with her GED students during the coronavirus pandemic to help keep them motivated. [Tiffany Butler]

'I Feel Trapped'

AM: I’ve been working in my reading book, I’d say two lessons a week. But I miss the relationships that we had built over the months.

TB: Mm-hmm.

AM: Now that the school is closed, I feel trapped, less fulfilled, less motivated.


AM: It makes me feel sad in a way, because it’s putting me behind. I was hoping to be further than what I am, and I’m not.

TB: I think you’re much better than what you think you are. You may not be ready to go go yet, but you know what your goals are, Ms. Miller.

AM: Right.

TB: To get your GED. So you have to stay motivated. Like I said, read. If you watch something on TV, write a little summary or something in your notes or something like that.

'Stay School Minded'

TB: Just stay school minded. Don’t let it be like the gym, [where] you miss one day and you’ll never go back. I know you won’t do that because you want it too bad.


Alana Miller is studying for her GED from home during the coronavirus pandemic. [Alana Miller]

AM: Well, after my stroke, you know my confidence in myself is rather shaky. So I thank you for feeling confident in me.

TB: You’re very welcome. It’s a pleasure. When we get back I know we are going to talk for hours about what’s going on now.

AM: Yes!

TB: Ooh-wee. I know we are going to have so much to say, oh my God, talk about what we did and how we couldn’t stand it. So I can’t wait to get back. Don’t stop planning that party Ms. Miller, OK? Don’t stop planning that party.

AM: (laughs) OK.

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