If you have $12 and gas costs $3.39 per gallon, how much can you put in your tank?

 

To buy a $9,000 used car, you take out a four-year loan with a 5% interest rate. What’s the total amount you’ll pay by the time you own the car?

 

Few people delight in studying algebra. But by applying algebra to daily activities – like buying gas or borrowing money – Kathy Evanston engages her students in learning. After more than two decades at Tulsa Public Schools and months of volunteer work, Evanston (pictured below, with students Lisa and Kristy) was hired last spring as a dedicated GED teacher for Family & Children’s Services’ Women in Recovery (WIR) program. 

Approximately 37% of WIR participants enter the program without a high school diploma or have been out of school for 10 years or more. Many dropped out their freshman or sophomore year. The reasons for school dropout are often the same reasons that lead women into the criminal justice system: physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, substance abuse, mental illness, history of family dysfunction and instability, domestic violence and hurdles to educational attainment and employment.

Family & Children’s Services was able to hire Evanston after receiving a grant from Chesapeake Energy. Evanston provides instruction – mostly in high school algebra and testing techniques – three days a week. Volunteers Linda Logan, Lysbeth Cain and Lisa Farhenkrog supplement with tutoring and extra help in language arts, and WIR participants who have their diplomas provide after-hours homework assistance.

Helping women obtain their GEDs is not Evanston’s only goal. Under Evanston’s care, students become better writers and communicators. They learn new ways to solve problems. They become better employees and parents. Many women forge deeper bonds with their children through the simple act of doing homework together.

Since June, three of Evanston’s students have obtained their GEDs. The majority of students began classes at a level three or four on the six-step adult basic education scale and have advanced at least one level in less than a year.