Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'She Shows That It's Never Too Late'; at 85, Pauline Newson's Thirst for Knowlege Has Led Her to Pursue Her GED

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'She Shows That It's Never Too Late'; at 85, Pauline Newson's Thirst for Knowlege Has Led Her to Pursue Her GED

Article excerpt

Byline: MAGGIE FITZROY

Pauline Newson remembers picking crops in the fields before she was old enough to go to school.

Growing up in rural Georgia, Newson, 85, remembers that when she did go to school, she loved it.

She loved to learn and loved to read.

But learning and reading were luxuries her impoverished family could ill afford, and by fifth grade she had to go to work full time to help her family.

Now after a lifetime of working on farms and as a domestic and raising five children, Newson of Atlantic Beach is determined to get her high school diploma.

She's going to school two nights a week at Fletcher High School to study for her General Educational Development, or GED, diploma through a free Florida Community College at Jacksonville-sponsored program.

Her classmates and instructor, Mary Lou Mikush of Ponte Vedra Beach, say she's an inspiration.

Going back to school as an adult can be "very daunting," said Mikush, whose class is filled with students of all ages who learn and study at their own pace.

The GED test is "very, very difficult" - seven hours long on five subjects, Mikush said. Depending on what grade the student left school, it can take years to get ready for it.

"I'm very proud of her," said Jason Ford, a 34-year-old student sitting at the desk next to Newson's on a recent Wednesday. "She shows that it's never too late."

Newson grew up the middle child of 13 children on a farm near Swainsboro in East Central Georgia. Since the struggle for survival was her family's priority, little Pauline went to school when she could.

"We didn't get much schooling done," she said. "Back then, if you had to work, you went into the field. Now that I'm grown, nobody can say, 'you can't go.' I get excited when I go to school."

After she married and raised her children, Newson made her living cleaning. But in her spare moments, she picked up a book whenever she could.

After moving to the Beaches in 1975, her yearning for learning continued.

About 20 years ago, she enrolled in various adult evening classes throughout Jacksonville, including typing and sewing classes at Fletcher High. …

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