Committment: what helped one local woman achieve her goals

By Julie Fann
Star Staff

What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail? One local woman dared to face the possibility of failure to achieve her dreams - and achieve them she did.
   Tammy Price, 35, entered Carter County's Adult Education Program in 1994, fourteen years after dropping out of Unaka High School. In 1999, she received her GED (Graduate Equivalency Degree). However, what she needed to overcome in order to achieve her goal is what makes her story remarkable.
   "I started out at a very low level. I believe it was a second or third grade level. I struggled a lot with reading and spelling," Price said. "And I had a lot of rough goings with three children at home."
   When Tammy's Adult Education teacher, Linda Bowling, first met her, Price had been working at a local agency doing volunteer work to keep her food stamps. The Department of Human Services (DHS) moved her to Carter County Schools Adult Basic Education Program to get her GED and be a volunteer.
   An initial assessment placed Tammy at a second grade level in reading and a fourth grade level in math.
   "I decided to get my GED because I was tired of not having anything and not being able to get a job like I wanted," Price said.
   However, financial struggle and family illness were obstacles on the path that Price had to overcome. At one point, Price didn't have enough money to buy gas for her car, and the staff in the adult education office collected aluminum cans to help her.
   Then, in September 1996, Price's mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the liver, and she had to care for her. Her mother's illness interrupted her education and her ability to remain emotionally strong.
   "Linda (Bowling) encouraged me the whole time. I had stress with the kids, and then in September 1996 they told me my mother was dying. I'd go down to see Linda, and I just couldn't concentrate. But after my mother died, I went back full force."
   Before she could actually prepare for the GED, Price had to learn basic reading skills. Preparation then involved learning science, math, social studies, English, and literature. Price also took courses in life skills training.
   "Linda started teaching me how to get out and socialize with people, to do stuff that I wouldn't do normally. She took me under her wing after my mother died. I about quit several times, and she encouraged me to go on," Price said.
   Passing the GED involved incredible amounts of repetition and testing. Price remembers the day in March 1999 when she heard that she finally passed the test.
   "Linda was giving out roses to the ones who had took it, and she said, 'Tammy's tried and tried, and she lacked only one or two points. She had a 42, and now she has a 57.' And I knew then that I'd done it."
   After completing her GED, Price then attended an 18-month business course at the Tennessee Technology Center. She currently works as an hourly employee at Burger King, but at the beginning of 2003 her boss will be promoting her to crew manager.
   Her achievements have enabled Price and her husband to purchase a new trailer and a new car. She hopes to eventually pay off old bills, but getting ahead she said won't be easy. Price is also raising two grandchildren, and still has 14-year-old son at home.
   When she thinks about the importance of having achieved her goal, Price is thankful for the support of her church family and for the strength she has found in her faith.
   "My church stood behind me. I could go talk to people at church about my GED, my home, my problems, and the day before I took my test I requested prayer, and I believe it was God that did it; I don't believe I could have done it on my own," Price said.
   Price encourages those who haven't received their high school diploma that it can be done.
   "There's gonna be hard times, and if you really want it, you've just got to go for it, and take God with you because you can't do it without him. If it weren't for the Lord, I couldn't have made it through. I always say, God doesn't put anything on you that you can't handle."
   Families First of Carter County helped Tammy Price achieve her goals through financial support and training. In 2001, 9.2 percent of Families First adult education students were employed, working an average number of 30 hours per week.