Amanda King enrolled in the adult education program at Coastal Pines Technical College in search of a second chance.

“I was 36 at the time, and I had a lot of fears about going back to school,” King said.

King, a recovering addict, grew up in a home where both of her parents had alcohol and drug addictions. Without encouragement to graduate high school, she never did.

“I grew up in a family where addiction was rampant,” King said. “I didn’t have anyone to encourage me to do something differently from what my family was doing.”

Both of her parents died from ailments caused by their addictions, and after losing her mom when she was 34, King turned to God and decided to turn her life around.

From that moment, she said she began to see God opening doors.

A run-in with the law found King in drug court, and she was offered the chance to go through the addiction recovery program at the Heather House, a women’s residential recovery center in Brunswick.

She was also required to earn her GED.

“I started taking classes, and it completely changed my life,” King said. “My children got to see me walk across the stage and get my diploma.”

Through its adult education program, Coastal Pines offers classes designed to help adult learners be successful in today’s workplace. Participation is free, and the program is catered to each student based on his or her needs and interests.

“It’s a free program for anyone over 16 and not enrolled in school,” said Kelly Peacock, executive director of the program. “We offer classes in English, secondary language, GED prep and skills improvement.”

Recently, Coastal Pines has ramped up its efforts to attract more people in the Golden Isles to enroll in the program, which currently has 295 people signed up locally.

Glynn County has about 7,100 people without a high school diploma or a GED, said John Scott, business retention and expansion manager at the Brunswick and Glynn County Development Authority.

“Anything we can do to bring that number down is worthwhile,” Scott said.

So the development authority has teamed up with Coastal Pines to get the word out about the program, helping the college advertise and recruit, through social media, word of mouth and other marketing tactics, Scott said.

Growing the program will only benefit the local economy, he said.

“We work with new companies coming in, and obviously their success is directly tied to the success of their workforce, so anything we can do to help the workforce locally is important,” Scott said.

Scott said he’s had the opportunity to tutor students in the program, so he’s seen firsthand the benefits it brings to the community.

“It’s a really amazing opportunity to spend some time with these people,” he said. “They’re very dedicated and motivated to improving their situation, and that’s refreshing for me.”

But there’s room for the program to grow in Glynn County, Peacock said.

“For the amount of people in Glynn County that need a GED, we’re not serving enough students,” she said.

King, who graduated from the program in June of 2015, is the house manager at the Heather House today. She’s also working toward becoming a certified addiction counselor and plans to work with pre-teen and teenage students.

As a counselor, King said she hopes to show young students that there is a different way to live — a realization she didn’t come to until much later in her own life.

King encouraged anyone debating whether to go back to school to go for it — the reward is worth it, she said.

“A lot of it was fear, the reason that I didn’t go back, which was so wrong,” she said.

To enroll in the adult education program, contact Coastal Pines Brunswick campus main office at 1800 Albany St. in Brunswick at 912-267-4115. An orientation is held every week and students can begin at any time.

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