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Rodewald goes back to school for GED: Never too old to learn

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Kermit Rodewald put a lot of effort into obtaining his GED.

A couple years ago, Kermit Rodewald was reading an article from the Minnesota Reading Corps about a need for people to read to students in the Lake Park-Audubon Elementary School. He wanted to help.

He contacted the appropriate people and found that he needed a high school diploma or GED in order to qualify, neither of which he had. So, he decided it was time to get his GED.

It took him a bit over a year, but Rodewald graduated with his GED this summer. He's 78 years old.

"I told Audrey, Audubon doesn't have someone there. That's close enough. I could do that," Kermit said of not having adults to read to children in Audubon.

So in June of 2010, he contacted the Adult Basic Education office in M State and got started.

"I took one subject at a time, took the test and passed every time," he said. "Mostly all were difficult," he added of the subjects he had to study and pass.

"We followed the same procedure we do with the other students," Fran Crowley said of Adult Basic Education's seasoned student. "He was a model student."

Kermit showed up multiple times a weeks and formed such a bond with his teachers that Crowley said he became like family.

"We're very proud," she said of his work and the GED he earned.

Kermit had to study reading, math, science, social studies and writing and pass a test in each subject to earn his GED. Crowley said he struggled with writing and math, the two subjects that most students struggle with the most.

"He was a very good influence on the younger students," she added.

"I learned quite a bit from them," Kermit said. "I made them share (answers)."

When he was young, Kermit attended District 132 through the eighth grade. (His old schoolhouse is now part of the Detroit Lakes Boys and Girls Club.) After that, he quit to help full-time with the family farm.

"I tell everyone I got my education out behind the barn," he said with a laugh.

With farming, "I didn't need all that education."

After he was married, the Rodewalds farmed for a bit before moving closer to town and Kermit needed to find a job.

"There were the only two (civil service jobs) that didn't require a high school education," he said.

He got in with the state highway department and worked in building maintenance for 20 years. He also drove school bus part-time until about five years ago. He is still a volunteer driver for Becker County Transit.

And after years of working and supporting his family - the Rodewalds helped foster over 40 children - it was something as simple as wanting to read to children that got Kermit back to school to earn his GED.

On July 11, he earned his GED and walked through the graduation ceremony.

"I think he had the most people there, too," Audrey said.

After a year of hard work, it's easy to see the pride both of the Rodewalds have for Kermit's achievement.

"At first, I didn't believe him, but when he carried through, I was very proud of him," Audrey said. "I never thought he'd enjoy it this much."

"It's been quite an experience," Kermit said.

The Adult Basic Education office is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Contact them at 844-5760.