Never too late to learn: Grand Lake woman studies for GED at 63
November 23, 2008
As Bonnie Schoech, 63, sat sewing in her Grand Lake, Colorado, home last Friday, her mind, she admitted, was fixed on other things.
Things like history, English, science, geography… and Lord knows, algebra.
“I’m driving myself and husband both crazy because neither one of us knows algebra,” said the grandmother of five.
Schoech is easily the oldest student at General Education Development, or GED high school equivalency classes, conducted at the Granby Library each Monday evening.
She may also be the most ambitious.
“I could study eight hours a day,” Schoech confessed.
At one point, her family intervened, advising her to allow herself study breaks.
“I am trying to be better about pacing myself,” she said. “But whenever I sit down, this is what I want to do.
“I was sewing today, but then I thought, ‘I need to measure this … and find the area of that.'”
Schoech grew up in Golden and quit school when she was 16 to find work. Her parents hardly objected, she said; they welcomed the extra income.
Just a year later, she married her husband Jerry. Schoech realizes in hindsight the following three years would have been ideal for going back to school to finish, but she never did.
That window seemed to close once she and her husband started a family. Life carried on with her husband’s ambulance business, with their commitment to fostering children, and during a 30-year long struggle, looking after their daughter who suffered a fatal illness.
Now living in Grand Lake, Schoech said she’s started a mental catalog of what she wants to accomplish in her golden years.
“I was thinking of roller-skating, before my family said, ‘I don’t think so,'” she said.
She’d actually given it a valiant try, but wearing roller skates while wielding a walker and oxygen tank proved too cumbersome.
She’s also purchased a bicycle she has yet to ride.
It was Marlin Anderson, her teacher, who during a visit to the couple’s house told the Schoechs that he’d started teaching GED classes and wondered if the couple knew anyone interested.
After giving in to some nudging, Schoech became convinced that now was the time to achieve that missing link to her education.
“I thought, y’know, ‘why not?'” she said.
“I just think it will be an accomplishment. My little brain is pretty rusty, but I don’t need to be on a timeline or anything … I don’t need to graduate by June.”
Anderson said Schoech is a great student who loves learning.
“She’s working very hard studying,” Anderson said. “Who knows? Potentially she might go on to take college courses.”
Schoech hasn’t ruled that out but for now remains focused on getting past the GED hurdle.
And one thing she worries about is taking tests by computer.
“My generation wasn’t exactly computer literate,” she said. “So that’s a challenge in itself.”
” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.