The saying “It takes a village to . . .” has certainly been true for Shelly Hall as she has reinvented herself during mid-life through education.
The 53-year-old Simcoe resident has a long list of people she thanks for helping her manage going back to school to embark on a career as a cook.
Shelly has been selected as a 2018 Education Champion by the Education WORKS Alliance, after being nominated by Fanshawe College in Simcoe.
“My advice to anybody changing their career or going back to school or even gaining extra knowledge in something, is to go ahead, persevere, stay focused and take pride in their next steps,” she says. “Ask for the help - don't be afraid.”
Shelly found that when she asked for help she got it, from many different people, in many different ways.
A close friend helped by telling Shelly about the Pre-Apprenticeship Cook program offered at Fanshawe’s Simcoe/Norfolk Regional Campus, opening her eyes to the possibility of a new career after working in the automotive field since she was a teen and even running her own business for a time.
Shelly’s husband, William, has helped by supporting her decision to go back to school and by becoming the sole financial provider while she pursued education.
A friend offered to take care of the couple’s 8-year-old foster child while Shelly was at school and William was working.
Staff in Fanshawe’s Literacy and Basic Skills program helped guide Shelly every step of the way as she finally completed her GED, a Grade 12 equivalent – something she had been trying to do for about 16 years.
Instructors helped Shelly by being there for her, encouraging her, by giving her individual attention, and by teaching material in a way that she could understand.
At times, Shelly wasn’t sure she could overcome the obstacles of studying, the need for child care, the financial strain, and the demands of family life, but she found with the help of her circle of support, she could. It has all been worth it.
“I have been overwhelmed with such a great course of learning,” Shelly says, impressed that she not only learned how to cook to people’s likes and dislikes, but also how to work closely with others.
“I’m glad I pushed myself to stay focused and learned. I have gained so much composure since, that I feel I can accomplish many more things to come.”
Shelly has been working part-time as a dietary aide at a Simcoe long-term care facility while going through the cook pre-apprenticeship program. Her placement for the cook program is at her place of work.
“I thought I could never get my Grade 12 or work in anything other than the automotive business,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what help is needed to get you through, there is always a way.”
Story by Mark Skeffington, Education WORKS Alliance