Local woman loves volunteer work

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 24, 2004

Anne Fitts just loves being a volunteer – so much so that she says she would be willing to pay to do it.

“I love to teach. In fact, I would be willing to pay to do my teaching in the GED program at the St. Edmund Learning Program.” She paused, “I probably shouldn’t say that, they might take me up!”

Fitts retired four years ago from Concordia College and found a focus in the GED program which provides much joy in her life. She volunteers three days a week from 8 a.m. to 12 noon. Most of her students are in their late teens or early 20s, she said.

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The program at St. Edmund Learning Center on Minter Avenue, sponsored by Edmundite Missions, is part of the citywide GED program. There are four teachers, including Fitts – Sister Norma Bourdon, D.H.S., Sister Judy Kaiser, I.H.M., and Sister Cecile Cusson, D.H.S., who spent 45 years serving in Africa as a missionary. Keyonsis Olds, a graduate of Wallace Community College, runs the computer lab.

Together, the team prepares students, who range widely in age and level of previous education and motivation, to move toward graduation – getting a GED certificate.

Sister Norma teaches math, Sister Judy teaches social studies and science, and Fitts teaches English and reading.

During the day, Fitts said, the students move from teacher to teacher, which only takes a minute or two in each case because the space is small. The learning center is a former house, complete with fireplaces and kitchen.

Part of the success of the program is the personal attention each student receives. The students’ ability to finish – and many do – depends on level of motivation, how far along they are when they enter, how hard they work and how faithfully they attend, she said.

Students are tested when they enter, she said, and along the way to see how they are progressing toward their goals.

Fitts’ emphasis is on writing the essay, a skill which she said most do not have. Many do not believe they can do it, she said, but she shows them the steps and encourages them in their efforts. At the end of her work with them, they are able to write an essay that will achieve a passing mark on the GED examination, she said.

Fitts also serves on the Selma City School Board; on the advisory committee for Christian Services for children in Alabama of the National Benevolent Association, Christian Church, Disciples of Christ; and is editor of a newsletter for prisoners published by the Montgomery-based Society of St. Dismas.

She is also active in spiritual renewal at Queen of Peace Catholic Church where she and her husband, Alston Fitts III, are members.

Anne Fitts is a Master Gardener which involved 40 hours of training initially and 10 hours annually of community service.