GED examiner reflects on career as changes come

With a new year comes new hopes and goals. But for one local, the new year will bring a nearly 40 year run to an end.

With a new series of GED exams – which will be administered entirely through a computer – being unveiled at the beginning of 2014 by the state Department of Education, Roger Campbell will end his duties as a chief examiner for the county, which he began in 1975.

“The rewards of it have been the number of people that have come in and gotten it (their GED diploma). Today, I still get people to say, ‘Hello,’ ” Campbell said on a recent visit to the Sun-Gazette reflecting on his duties as chief examiner.

As he explained, what began as a fill-in role with the GED process has turned into a nearly 40 year commitment. Campbell was asked in 1975 to fill the role for a short time when he was hired by the Williamsport Area School District as a school psychologist.

“They haven’t found anyone (to take over the job) in 40 years,” Campbell said. ” … It’s basically been a one-year show for 40 years.”

So each month Campbell has administered the series of tests on the weekends. Test takers have about seven and a half hours to take the tests. But beginning later this week, the tests no longer will be given by paper and pencil. The exams only will be administered through the computer. BlaST Intermediate Unit 17 will pick up the test location duties in the new year.

Campbell was pleased to see that a local testing location will be available to area residents seeking to obtain the GED diploma.

“I was concerned we were going to lose it locally,” he said, adding that it would discourage those seeking a GED diploma if they were required to travel a far distance to do so.

Campbell stressed that the community offers many resources for those seeking a GED diploma. From the CareerLink to the Learning Center at the James V. Brown Library, there are many classes and tools available.

And being able to see people succeed after many different obstacles is rewarding, Campbell said. He called the GED program a “second-chance program.”

He said some had bad experiences in high school and others saw no need for a high school diploma until they lost a long-standing job.

He added that those who earn their GED diploma deserve respect as it’s not an “easy test.”

“I always respected the people that came in and took the GED,” Campbell said. “I give them credit.”

And with such a wide variety of individuals coming in to take the exam, Campbell said it always was interesting to learn the stories of those willing to share.

One story Campbell tells is that of the oldest tester he’s met in his years with the GED process – 89 years old. The man was very financially successful from a career in the railroad, Campbell explained.

But he went through the process to obtain his GED diploma after his grandson dropped out of school, citing his grandfather’s lack of diploma as a reason to do so.

“He was trying to motivate his grandson,” Campbell explained.

And those interactions are what Campbell is going to miss the most.

“I’m sure I’m going to miss the people,” he said. “We’ve had a wide variety of people.”