Library Corner: District makes high school diploma dreams a reality for local adults

Sally LeClair, Board of Trustees President, poses for a photo with Jennifer Miller, a 39-year-old mother of four who was the perfect candidate for the Grand County Library District’s Career Online High School program.
Courtesy of GCLD

It’s tough for Jennifer Miller to think about her high school experience, but because she left without a diploma, the now 39-year-old mother of four thinks back on this time often.

“I was severely bullied,” she shared, “to the point that I saw no other option but dropping out. I tried getting my GED since I knew I’d need a high school education to turn my passions into a successful career, but that structure didn’t work out for me.” 

She added: “Never give up has been my lifelong motto, and I took this approach to my high school education as well.” 

Considering this, Jennifer was the perfect candidate for Grand County Library District’s Career Online High School program. Career Online High School is an accredited high school completion program offered by the library through a partnership with Gale, a Cengage company, and the Colorado State Library.

The online program provides each student with a dedicated academic coach to provide encouragement and positive enrichment as they work towards achieving a high school diploma — not a GED — and a career certificate in a high growth, in-demand career field of their interest and choice.

“Career Online High School allows us to serve a definite need in our community,” said Stephanie Ralph, former executive director of Grand County Library District. “It allows us to realize our mission of linking people to boundless opportunities.”

The library began participating in the program last year with an initial cohort of 10 students. Two have graduated and three could finish their studies any day now. Typically, the program takes about 18 months to complete, but Stephanie has been impressed by how many students push to finish in under a year. 

“What’s great about the program is that I truly believe anyone can do it,” said Jennifer, who was in the library’s initial group of graduates. “I’m raising my children and supporting my daughter as she raises my grandchildren. I run a business with my husband, and I have health issues that are extremely painful and make it hard for me to concentrate. Despite all of these challenges, I still finished. It absolutely helped that I could go along at my own pace, log in whenever worked best for me day or night and rely on my academic coach and library staff to provide support and encouragement along the way.” 

Grand County Library District still has scholarships available for residents who are 19-years-old or older and able to complete a 15-question online self-assessment, participate in an in-person interview and pass a two-week prerequisite course with a grade of 70% or higher.

Residents who have experience with the GED should take note: Students can not only transfer credits earned in core courses during high school, but a recent program update makes it now possible for students who have successfully completed part of the GED to use those credits towards core courses in the Career Online High School program. For more information about Career Online High School, go to or call 970.887.9411.

Lynn Brainard is a writer for Gale Career Online High School.

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