From the GED classroom to… the GED classroom

Michelle Brink

Greetings! My name is Michelle Brink, and I am one of two ABE/GED instructors in Montrose.

I received my GED in 2009. Interestingly, it took me two years in total to pass all four subjects required to earn the GED.

While passing all subjects sooner would have been ideal, I faced a lot of barriers. I had the desire, but I lacked the confidence. I passed every subject except for the math portion, which, after failing, I decided to give up. I honestly felt like there was a part of my brain missing that prevented me from understanding numbers. Like a lot of students, I found mathematics to be a very daunting subject. Factors leading to my anxiety and aversion to math included: the lack of a solid foundation in basic math concepts, falling behind in elementary, Junior High, and Senior High School, and learning from those who possessed little to no patience.

However, continuing to ruminate on the failures of my past only kept me from welcoming success into my future. I came to the realization that excuses were not going to build my confidence. What was going to, and what did, build my confidence was learning how to ask questions when I was confused and to ask for help when I needed it. When something did not make sense to me, I allowed myself the privilege of asking my instructor for help. I failed the test once, but after three months of intense studying, I passed the mathematics portion of the GED. For most of my life I had told myself that I would never understand math. I have since come to realize how limiting of a belief that was because after receiving my GED I went on to college and earned a degree. Not one of these accomplishments came easy.

On numerous occasions I felt defeated, stupid, lazy, and at times, just plain unmotivated. But, I have learned that the more significant the struggle the more meaningful the reward. In other words, success, sometimes, requires us to wrestle with the discomfort of the challenge, which is temporary.

This portion of the articles is written by Anne Ventrillo, Director, Montrose Adult Education Center

This is the story of a woman who has traveled and found herself back where she started – only in a totally different role.

“I wanted to get a better job.” That’s the reason Michelle Brink gives for coming to the GED program and after a difficult two years achieving success. Along the way, she learned a lot about herself and life. The experience changed her—so much so that when she finally passed the math portion of the GED test (she had taken and passed the other four tests without too much effort) in November of one year, she enrolled in and began taking college courses through Colorado Mesa University in January of the following year.

She did all of this while raising three children on her own and working full-time or part-time. Brink stated that she had to wait until her oldest son was old enough to watch the younger two children before she could begin the GED classes. She would come for an hour an evening because she didn’t want to leave her children home alone too long. Then, she would work as much as she could at home.

Ms. Brink talks about how she felt stupid in math–feeling that she had no ability to learn, that she would never figure it out. With the help of a ‘very patient’ teacher, she began practicing basic math skills over and over and, after much struggle on both of their parts, she was graphing linear equations.

Michelle credits her children as her biggest motivators. She wanted to be a good role model and show them that education was important. She remembers when she was first studying math and her son had to help her with some of her problems. ‘I was supposed to be helping him,’ she remembers thinking.

Michelle’s oldest son is now following in his mother’s footsteps–except attending CSU and only needing to take care of himself. How did you do it, Mom? He recently asked her. I’m only going to school. . .

After getting her bachelor’s degree through Colorado Mesa University, Brink has been working two part-time jobs. When she saw the opening for a GED instructor at the Montrose Adult Education Center, she thought, I’m going to apply. Probably won’t get it but. . .

She was hired last September to teach the evening GED classes. Because of her experiences, she can empathize with her students and brings her knowledge of the difficulties most students face.

Students interested in obtaining their high school equivalency diploma who need preparation classes can call 249-2028 or email for more information. Montrose Adult Education Center is here to help you.

About the author


Anne Ventrillo