This accomplishment designated them as Georgia's eleventh certified literate community. Thirty-eight-year-old Robert Smith took a new approach at life and put his education first.
Robert says, "I'm helping the students now with their homework because of my progress with the school and my lessons. I'm able to help other students with what I already know."
Like Robert, many adults in the metro Valdosta area are hitting the books and fighting illiteracy.
Gwendolyn Nelson, a graduate of the literacy program, says, "I dropped out of school at a very young age and all my kids had high school diplomas and I'm a single parent. My husband died and I needed a new start, a new foundation."
The Valdosta-Lowndes Certified Literacy Program has made brighter futures for more than 8,000 folks in the area. Such an accomplishment even caught the attention of a certain state official.
Mark Taylor, Georgia's Lieutenant Governor, says, "Education has got to be number one and when you talk about a certified literate community you're talking about a community that's committed to saying that some people fell through the cracks."
Educators in the area say the program has added 8,000 new assets to the workforce. Georgia was the first state to initiate this literacy program. The state of Nevada has now picked up the program as well.