Piedmont Adult School graduate looks to a bright future

Piedmont Adult School

Maria with Shannon Fierro, Director of Piedmont Adult School (left) and teacher Dan Bonnin

Adjusting to life in a new country and learning a new language, while taking care of two teenagers and a toddler, might seem overwhelming for most. But Maria Jardine decided to take on all this while adding one more task – earning a high school diploma.

Maria grew up in Manaus, Brazil – “home of the forest and the river” as she fondly describes it. Manaus is located in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, the world’s largest expanse of tropical rainforest. The area is unmatched in its diversity of plants and animals. Maria completed her high school education in Brazil. In the years following, she had two children and worked to support them, so was unable to continue her education.

In Brazil, she met Kolby Jardine, who was originally from California. The two were married, had a son, and decided to move the family to California. They settled in Piedmont and enrolled the older children in Piedmont schools. While taking her son to high school, Maria saw a flyer for the Piedmont Adult School and realized that she could earn her US high school diploma. Piedmont Adult School offers a self-paced, state-funded high school diploma program, available to any California resident 18 or older. This program is completely free to the student. “This seemed like such a wonderful opportunity to me,” says Maria. “I wanted to learn more about my new home in the United States, and I also knew that having a US high school diploma would improve my job opportunities here.”

For Maria, getting her US high school degree meant completing classes in US History, Civics, Economics and Algebra. The school provided all materials for the courses. Maria studied on her own time and met with a teacher regularly to get further instruction and feedback. “I studied almost every weekday, often until late in the night,” Maria remembers. “Sometimes I asked my husband and children for help. It was a lot of fun learning some things together.”

It took Maria just one year to complete all the requirements for her degree. “My teacher said that I completed the requirements quickly,” Maria notes. “But for me, one year was a very long time.”

To celebrate her achievement, the Piedmont Adult School held a small celebration for Maria, complete with cap and gown and her official diploma. With her high school diploma in hand, Maria is considering her next step. She is looking for job opportunities to help support her family, and also considering college. “I am excited to be on a path to realizing my dream of living in the US and working in a job that I love and that can help me grow, “ says Maria.

Maria celebrates her high school graduation with her husband and younger son.

The Piedmont Adult School offers a free, state-funded high school diploma program for adults 18 and over. The program is an independent-study model tailored to fit the needs of working adults, and is open to any California resident. Most students entering the program still need to complete between one and 40 credits in order to
earn their high school diplomas. The school provides all course materials free of charge. Students complete the coursework on their own schedules, and meet once a week with a teacher, one-on-one, to receive instruction and review their progress.

Adults interested in the Piedmont Adult School High School Diploma Program can contact Dan Bonnin at (510) 594-2654 or dbonnin@piedmont.k12.ca.us to schedule a one-on-one meeting and transcript review.

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