Featured Story – Joe

Joe returned to school as an adult learner after 15 years in the working world, having left high school in grade 10. Upon enrolling with Grade Learning, Joe was excited at the opportunity to get an education. Although returning to a formal learning environment was a change and frustrating at times, Joe worked hard from the first day he entered the campus and maintained a solid work-ethic throughout his educational program. Joe persisted through an Academic Upgrading class and then took the initiative to work towards the goal of acquiring his GED or Grade 12 equivalency diploma. He recently wrote the exam and is currently awaiting his results.

“For 15 years, I worked in the field of setting up tool and die equipment on robotic and brake press systems and also drove lift trucks. In March of 2010, I enrolled in Grade Learning’s Academic Upgrading and GED Preparation programs. Since then, it has been a pleasure attending Grade Learning. I have learned things I never thought I could. From the manager to my teachers, someone has always been there to help.

Grade Learning helped me in all academic subjects. I had the most trouble with spelling, math, writing, and computers. They helped me to get to a grade 12 level in these subjects. On the computer, I also set up my own email and learned how to use Microsoft Office.

Besides the impact of now having a proper education, Grade Learning has impacted my life in a way that I am yet to see. I have learned how to speak to others and how to treat others; this fact alone has already impacted my life and will surely impact my career.

I would recommend Grade because the personal help the teachers provide can help anyone overcome any subject that is a problem. Grade also has a friendly environment to work in, and I have enjoyed the fourteen months I have been here.

My previous education cannot compare to Grade! Grade Learning takes the time and effort to help people. If you fall behind in other schools, they don’t care. The staff here, however, strive on helping people that need the most help, just like I did.”


Anita was 48 years old when she enrolled in Grade Learning’s GED program. As a high school dropout, Anita was restricted in the careers that were available to her and as a result spent many years working in a field she did not feel comfortable in. When Anita entered our campus, she immediately felt at home. Anita has earned her GED and is now enrolled in a college program. This is something she has always hoped would happen.

“My goal when I came to Grade Learning was to complete academic upgrading so I would be able to obtain my GED in order to go to college. I not only received my GED but it changed my lifestyle. They showed me that I can be successful at anything I set out to do. I actually enjoyed coming to school..

“I am now at college completing an Administrative Business Assistant course, which I couldn’t have done without Grade and everything they did to help me get my GED. I actually completed and accomplished my goal at Grade, which I had never done before.

A fantastic teacher named Chris helped me achieve my goals. He was awesome to work with and never got frustrated with me. He never gave up on me, no matter how dissatisfied I was with myself. The small class sizes were better for my learning and I felt more relaxed. I do not think I could handle being out of school for so long and going back into a large classroom where you are just another student.

The staff at Grade were committed to my outcome and future needs. They made learning fun. The staff care about the clients and treat them like adults. They work with you individually to ensure you get the help you need. This is something I did not find at my past school. Thanks to Grade I can continue my education knowing I will be successful.”


After 30 years working as a machine operator for a printing company, Dinh came to Grade Learning to upgrade his education, earn his GED and begin the process of training for a new career.

“I came to Grade Learning to complete academic upgrading so that I would be able to obtain my GED in order to go to college. It had been so long since I had gone to school that I didn’t believe I could do it on my own.

The atmosphere at the school was great, and the teachers and staff were very organized and supportive. I learned a lot in a short period of time, and I passed the GED exam. I feel reborn! Now, I’m looking forward to the future, and I’m very excited to begin my new career.

I would recommend Grade Learning to anyone looking to begin a new career. The programs and staff are accommodating to all levels of learners, but especially well-suited to older, more mature students who have been out of school for a while. The small class sizes and individual attention made it easier for me to succeed and achieve my goals. I don’t believe I could have done it in the public system. ”


Joe was 50 years old when he enrolled in Grade Learning’s Specialized Training program for Academic Upgrading r. As a high school dropout, Joe had ‘learned’ in school that he would not be able to make it; as a result, he didn’t believe in himself, especially when it came to his most difficult subject: math. Over his year at Grade, he became the class clown, using humour to add levity to the challenging task of retraining for a new career at 50. Joe is now studying AutoCad design at college, which will open many employment opportunities for him.

“My goal when I came to Grade Learning was to complete academic upgrading so I would be able to obtain my GED in order to go to college. I obtained my GED, gained math skills and reading comprehension skills, plus the ability to achieve things I thought impossible (mostly math-related).

I am now at college completing a Mechanical Technician course, which I couldn’t have done without Grade and everything they did to help me get my GED. I actually completed and accomplished my goal at Grade, which I had never done before.

Fantastic teachers helped me achieve my goals; they never gave up on me, no matter how dissatisfied I was with myself. They were able to teach even me subjects and topics I never understood before. The small class sizes were better for my learning and the teachers believed in me. In the past, my teachers had always told me I ‘couldn’t do anything’. Grade made me more confident and determined to succeed in my future goals.

The teachers at Grade were committed to my outcome and future needs. They set me up for my future. Grade’s biggest asset is not only their programs, but also the managers and teachers that care about their clients, something you don’t find in bigger schools. At 50 years of age, I wouldn’t have made it in the public system.”


Brenda was 57 years old when she enrolled in Grade Learning’s Specialized Training Academic Upgrading, and Computer Literacy programs. Her last stint with education was 45 years ago, when she left high school after having completed several grade 9 credits. Since then, Brenda had spent very little time in educational settings and she was apprehensive about returning to “school.” At the beginning, she didn’t think it was possible for her to succeed in subject areas that were entirely new to her (most notably, computers). As her time with Grade Learning progressed, so too did her confidence and academic achievements.

“My goal when I came to Grade Learning was to establish new career opportunities. I couldn’t bring myself to return to a factory setting, especially because my physical condition wouldn’t allow me to do so. Generally speaking, I guess I was seeking new direction and opportunity in life.

Though I was nervous in the beginning, I LOVED my experience at Grade Learning. It renewed my confidence and positively improved my perception of myself. Through the efforts of my teachers, I learned to see myself as something more than an assembler in a factory.

The teachers at Grade were friendly, approachable, and most importantly, AVAILABLE. Even if one was occupied with another student, I knew that I could ask anyone for assistance at any time. That’s something that I remember most: the sense of community at the campus and the feeling that I knew everyone who was there… even the teachers and students who weren’t in my class.

I would recommend Grade Learning to anyone seeking a new educational opportunity. The level of comfort and service that I experienced while attending the Waterloo campus was not only inspiring, it was life-changing.”


Dan was 56 years old when he enrolled in Grade Learning’s Specialized Training Academic Upgrading program. Dan’s elementary school education, coupled with his age and injury, put him at a disadvantage when seeking new employment. He was enthusiastic about re-entering the workforce and enthusiastically took advantage of every opportunity Grade Learning provided to increase his knowledge and skills. During his year and a half at Grade, Dan gained a reputation among instructors and classmates alike for his positive, enthusiastic and motivating attitude.

“My goal when I came to Grade Learning was to upgrade my education, because it had been years since I had received any kind of formal education; I dropped out after grade 8. I knew that I needed more education in order to be somewhat competitive in the workforce.

With Grade Learning’s help, I improved on my mathematics skills as well as my computer knowledge, and even increased my active vocabulary. I never thought that I would be able to learn how to use a computer at my age!

I obtained a work placement through Grade Learning at Rona, where I was able to apply some of my previous work experience and put it together with the new skills I learned, such as mathematical concepts (square footage, for example) and great customer service skills when dealing with the public. After my placement ended, I was offered a job at Rona and have been working there now for three months.

The teachers at Grade Learning helped me greatly. They were motivating and very supportive, which I found to be very important. Everything I learned during my time at the center helped me in obtaining employment. If it hadn’t been for Grade and the teachers who were so patient with me, I would not have been able to be as confident as I was or feel as prepared as I did during work placement interviews, one of which ultimately led to employment.”


Uninspired by the education she received in the public system, Deborah left high school at the age of 16 and began her working life. When Deborah was referred to Grade Learning for Specialized Training, she assumed that returning to any educational facility would be arduous and depressing. However, within weeks of starting her Academic and Computer training, she gained a new love for learning. Through her efforts and commitment, she received a paid position at the end of her Work Placement program and has since been promoted into the role of Assistant Manager.

“My goal when I came to Grade Learning was to gain the specific skills needed to get a job. That’s pretty much it. I didn’t set many specific goals for myself, other than getting away from factory-related work. I wanted to re-enter the workforce in a position that was enjoyable and safe.

When I first started my program, I was a very withdrawn person, largely because I was so skeptical about my own abilities. I NEVER thought that I’d get to where I am now. Not only am I employed at a job that I enjoy, I’ve also been given the role of Assistant Manager. The work has been steady and my life has improved as a result.

The staff at Grade Learning played a major role in helping me achieve this positive change. Through their support and understanding I was able to open up and regain much of the confidence that I lost before starting my program. Not only did I learn the academic and technical skills that I needed to re-enter the workforce, I also received the encouragement and assurance needed to take the first steps.

I would recommend Grade Learning to anyone seeking a new educational opportunity. In fact, I’m thinking about coming back myself for one-on-one tutoring so that I can become even more savvy with a computer. I can’t think of a more ideal environment for learning!”


Dennis came to Grade Learning in his early 30s and in need of a career change. In order to re-enter the workplace, Dennis required up-to-date computer upgrading Specialized Training to provide new opportunities in his career path. His experience at Grade Learning gave him exactly that.

“My goals when I came to Grade Learning were to find a suitable career path and overcome the difficult changes that I had recently experienced in my life. When someone experiences an abrupt end to their career the way that I did, it can be overwhelming to face this sort of change. My experience at Grade Learning certainly helped me get through this.

When I think back to the experience I had at Grade, I can’t think of anything negative to say. The staff there was extremely supportive, and more specifically, the instructor who oversaw my program was an immensely positive influence for me.

Though the new skills that I acquired during my time at Grade Learning proved to be valuable to my new employment, I think that the most important transformation that I made was in my attitude. Before starting my program, I truly believed that the obstacles presented to me were insurmountable. Fortunately, the staff at Grade helped me see beyond this and, as a result, I’ve changed my outlook on life and become far more motivated. I couldn’t have secured the job that I have now if I didn’t undergo this positive change.

I would recommend Grade Learning to anyone seeking change in their career. The environment there is personal, positive and empowering.”


At the age of 53, Lloyd came to Grade Learning in need of Specialized Training in computers in preparation for community college. Though he had very limited exposure to modern technology, Lloyd thrived in the small, student-focused classes offered at his Grade campus. With the help of the staff, he acquired the technical skills needed to be successful in college and has since gained employment in the field of inventory management.

“When I came to Grade Learning, my primary goal was to become familiar with computer software, particularly Microsoft Excel. Without this training, the likelihood of being successful at college would have been rather slim, especially because I was going into bookkeeping and inventory-related work.

My experience at the Grade Learning campus proved to be even more rewarding than I expected. Whether I required assistance or not, my instructor was always nearby – ready to assist me at any given moment. With such a strong support system in place, it made my program very achievable. In the end, I learned more than I ever assumed I would.
With the assistance of the Grade Learning staff, I became well equipped for my college program and, as it turned out, I completed college with an average exceeding 90%.
Following my training, I promptly became employed as an inventory clerk and have applied many of my newly-acquired computer skills within the workplace.
I would recommend Grade Learning to anyone in need of computer training. Knowing that a knowledgeable staff member is nearby will certainly make you feel at ease.”