MILTON — Santa Rosa Adult School allows students to complete their high school education, and it’s been doing so more than 70 years.

‘IT’S VERY REWARDING’

Santa Rosa Adult School is one of the oldest schools in the county, according to Principal Donna Christopher. It was established around 1945 to provide education to World War II veterans who quit school early to enlist.

“What we offer for the adult school is adult basic education and a pathway for students to earn their General Education Diploma … so if somebody dropped out of high school but needs one to two credits to complete a diploma, they can do that,” she said.

Sarah Holmes, a former middle school teacher, now is an educator at Santa Rosa Adult School. In a normal day, when the teacher helps one student, students then help each other, she said.

“Everybody is doing something different. Five people might be testing…There is the ‘COW,’ the Computer on Wheels with different online programs,” Holmes said.

“It’s very rewarding to see them succeed, the hard work they show, and to watch them find a path in life.”

‘MORE LIKE A COMMUNITY’

Chastin Ramsay said he appreciates the personal attention each student receives at adult school.

“They help you from the very beginning to the very end until you don’t need help any more,” Ramsay said.

When his parents divorced, Ramsay said he helped raise his younger brother and sister while his mother constantly worked.

“The last grade I finished was sixth … I made sure the kids ate and got them ready for school,” he said.

While working at Navy Federal Credit Union, Ramsay said he is getting help to earn his General Education Diploma and will go on to use the Pell Grant to enter the Locklin Tech cyber security program through Santa Rosa Adult School.

With classes lasting two hours and 45 minutes a day, Mondays through Thursdays, Ramsay said the schedule prevents burnout.

Classes cater to individuals, Ramsay said, so there is a variety of students and work going on.

“It’s less like a class and more like a community.”

‘YOU’RE ACCOMPLISHING SOMETHING’

“Family and education are the two most important things,” Zoe Eisenzimmer said.

That’s why she signed up for Santa Rosa Adult School classes.

Eisenzimmer worked for her father for four years as a receptionist, but she said he inspired her to set goals to better herself, and that included finishing her education.

Now, adult school is helping her earn her General Education Diploma.

She wants to continue her education through Locklin Tech’s culinary program.

Until she gets there, she said the support she has received is encouraging.

“They make you feel like you’re accomplishing something,” Eisenzimmer said, referring to the Santa Rosa Adult School teachers.

FROM ADULT SCHOOL TO WELDING

"I could not have done this on my own,” Cecil Bower said, referring to his recent education milestone.

Bower was on track to finishing high school when he faced the reading portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, which proved challenging.  

Bower walked in the graduation ceremony but said, after taking the test four times, he did not earn his high school diploma.

Thursday, he received his General Education Diploma after attending adult school.

Now, Bower’s career path is progressing. He is enrolled in Locklin Tech’s welding program and has a professional goal: He wants to be a traveling welder.

“I want to go where I’m needed,” he said.

Adult School, and that GED, will help ensure that Bower — and his classmates — can do just that.