Long Beach Public Library Foundation

Expanding Horizons – A Library Story

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At 27 years-old, Saram Routh knew it wasn’t too late to achieve her dream of earning her high school diploma, but she wasn’t quite sure how to get started on this goal. When Saram was a teenager, schooling had to take the back burner to pressing personal life issues. As she became older and more mature, she realized that not having a high school diploma was keeping her from making the best life possible for her beautiful, supportive family.

Photo: Long Beach Public Library. Saram Routh (Right) with General Librarian and Career Online High School Coordinator, Gina Robinson

Luckily, a few of Saram’s family members and friends had personal experience with Career Online High School, an accredited high school completion program offered by Long Beach Public Library through a partnership with Gale, a Cengage company. The Long Beach Public Library Foundation supports this program with scholarships, giving students the opportunity to earn their diploma for free.

“I’m always on the go,” shared Saram. “Every day I take my kids from school, work at my full-time job, keep an eye on my kids when they’re home, make my family dinner and do a million other things. I knew that for a program to work, I would need to be able to complete it on my schedule and from wherever I happened to be at the time.” Fortunately, Career Online High School is 100% online, so students can access their course materials at any time on their computers or on one the computers at any of the 12 Long Beach Public Libraries.

Gina Robinson, Career Online High School coordinator and librarian at the Long Beach Public Library, sees the Career Online High School program as a perfect complement to the other Long Beach Public Library programs: “Like our city, the library is always changing,” she said. “Libraries are for education and lifelong learning, and Career Online High School is a key component in that.” The library admitted its first adult students just two short years ago and has already celebrated the achievements of 36 graduates, including Saram. Currently, 40 Long Beach residents are working their way through the program, and the library still has many scholarships available to residents who are 19-years-old or older and would like to apply. Learn more about the application process at lbpl.org/events/cohs.

“Overall, my success with the program has helped further my belief that life isn’t about finding yourself — it’s about creating yourself,” shared Saram. Creating yourself is easiest when you have a support network to help you along the way. “My academic coach throughout this process provided that support for me,” she said. “She motivated me with kind words and pushed me to realize my full potential even when I was losing faith.” Each Career Online High School student is assigned their own personal academic coach to provide feedback about progress and offer connections to additional resources, should the student need them.

What’s next for Saram? The future is wide open! “I see big changes ahead now that I’ve earned my diploma and filled this missing point of my life. Doors have opened for me, and I’m already finding opportunities that I couldn’t have dreamed of before.” Saram plans to go to college once she determines what specific career is her passion. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do, and now I have the foundation I need to explore my passions!”

Story prepared in partnership with Gale, a Cengage company.

Photo: Long Beach Public Library. (Left to right) Saram Routh with her fellow graduates at their August 18, 2018 graduation ceremony; Dr. Tiffany Brown, LBUSD Assistant Superintendent and commencement speaker; Glenda Williams, Director of Library Services.

Students Get a Second Chance and Earn their High School Diploma at the Library

General Librarian Gina Robinson, LBUSD Board of Education and Library Foundation Board Member John McGinnis, Director of Library Services Glenda Williams, and Career Online High School Director of Strategic Accounts Diana Doetzel with four Long Beach Public Library graduates.

At the podium in his cap and gown, Samrith recalled his teen years acknowledging, “I did not get my high school diploma back then, but I didn’t quit. I never gave up on my education.” Now, 18 years after he left high school, Samrith earned his high school diploma at the Long Beach Public Library with support from the Library Foundation. He plans to continue on to community college and hopes to eventually begin a career in law enforcement.

Long Beach Public Library Career Online High School graduate, Samrith addressing the crowd.

A little over a year ago, the Library began offering the Career Online High School program for local adults to earn their high school diploma using library resources. The Library Foundation supports this program with scholarships to make this opportunity accessible to those who need it. So far, 12 students have graduated.

On September 30 at the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library, Samrith joined three other graduates for the Library’s first Career Online High School graduation ceremony honoring these individuals who sought out this second chance to receive a proper education.

The graduates were cheered on at the ceremony by their family and friends. Teresa graduated while continuing to improve her English, but volunteered to speak during the ceremony and thanked her daughter Ana for encouraging her to earn her diploma.

Representing the Long Beach Public Library Foundation Board and LBUSD Board of Education, John McGinnis delivered the keynote address. He shared the story of his mother who was unable to complete high school in her youth. She waited for John to graduate from college before returning to get her diploma and inspiring him to become an educator.

Director of Library Services Glenda Williams noted how inspiring the day was for all who attended. This is a true example of hard work paying off.

Long Beach Public Library Career Online High School graduate, Teresa with her daughter Ana and granddaughter.

It’s summertime! Let’s talk about school…

Our librarians are always advocates for education at every stage of life. But did you know that the Long Beach Public Library actually offers the opportunity to get a high school diploma? The Career Online High School is a free, accredited program for adult learners looking to expand their opportunities by furthering their education. Students are paired with online academic coaches who help them navigate the eighteen-month program designed to ensure that they’re ready for a career.

The Career Online High School is one of the most sought-after programs offered by the Library. Because enrollment is fully funded by scholarships from the Library and the Foundation, space is limited. Your support for the Long Beach Public Library Foundation makes it possible for us to continue offering these remarkable opportunities. You are literally changing lives in the most fundamental ways. Learn more about the Career Online High School here, or connect with a librarian about the program on the library’s main website.