Back In The Classroom: Eskasoni Adult Learner Receives Literacy N.S. Award

Don’t ever think it’s too late to go after what you want.

Seven months ago, Stephanie Paul of Eskasoni went after her GED after dropping out of high school thirteen years ago. 

Last September, the single mother of three enrolled in Unama’ki T.E.C’s Adult Program to pick up where she left off more than a decade ago. Four months later in December, she successfully completed the necessary General Educational Development tests. 

Stephanie confessed that while waiting for the test results to come back, she had little faith in herself. 

“I thought I might pass some,” said Stephanie. “But certainly not all.”

Stephanie ended up passing every subject. This allowed her to stay in the Adult Program at TEC and work toward another educational goal. With a GED under her belt in less than four months, Stephanie turned her focus to a university degree, something that was just a fleeting dream a month before.  

The road to where she is now hasn’t been smooth. For years Stephanie feared crowds, and lacked confidence and self-esteem.

The worst part, she said, was when her children would struggle with their homework and she couldn’t help them. 

“I felt helpless,” said Stephanie. 

So after walking out the school’s doors more than a decade ago, she turned around and walked back in.

“I knew going back to school would help me stay sober, away from drugs, and save money.”

But even more so, she says she returned to school to better the life of her children by becoming a better mother.

She says that since she’s returned to school, her family has said she’s more positive and has more self-esteem.

“My family looks at me in a more positive way because I am doing something to better my life,” Stephanie smiles. 

She says she now worries less about what others think of her, and that her relationships with friends and family members have improved. 

Each year, Literacy Nova Scotia invites adult learners from across the province to write about their literacy journeys and submit these stories to the organization’s Adult Learners’ Week Contest. With encouragement from her teachers, Stephanie submitted her story. And she won. 

During the Adult Learners’ Week celebration in Halifax on April 4, Stephanie, alongside three other winners, presented her story to The Honourable Kelly Regan, Minister of Labour and Advanced Education. 

During a conversation with Stephanie the evening prior, she admitted that she felt nervous and afraid – the same feelings that had paralyzed her for years and kept her from returning to the classroom.

But this time, she had confidence on her side. 

With a shy smile, she nodded and said, “I’m nervous, yes…. but I’m excited, too.”

Stephanie is now taking two high school courses, Environmental Science 12 and English 12, two courses she hopes will help her future application to the Bachelor of Science, Environmental Studies program at Cape Breton University. 

She says she will always be grateful for the help and guidance of her teachers at Unama’ki T.E.C.

“I know now that age doesn’t matter. It’s never too late to return to school. This new light has deepened my appreciation of life and all it has to offer.”