From the outside, the Marlboro County Adult Education and Community Education Center on Broad Street may look small but on the inside, it is full of possibilities in its nine classrooms.
These possibilities include earning your high school diploma or GED, getting WorkKeys certification or taking computer classes.
"It is a little building but a whole lot goes on inside under this little room," said William Jorgensen, director of Adult and Community Education.
Adult Education is open 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday with students attending from 8 a.m.-noon.
In the afternoon, classes are offered to the public to learn about Powerpoint, setting up email or introducing Excel.
At Adult Education, students can earn a high school diploma, GED or take Adult Basic Education classes.
The center has a job board where SC Works sends position postings to help students find new opportunities.
"We can try to help them get what they need educationally but also a life-sustaining job," he said.
Adult Education is also a preparation and testing center for career-ready certificates for WorkKeys or WIN.
The public can come for testing on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Appointments can also be made based on a person's schedule.
They are also a Pearson VUE testing site. Pearson VUE is an electronic testing service that provides various tests for firefighters, medical and other areas.
"Anybody who needs a test that Pearson VUE provides can sign up and take it here," Jorgensen said.
He added when Bennettsville Fire Chief James Jackson III started, he came to them to see if testing could be done. Officials did the paperwork and got it approved.
"So now we are able to test firefighters from not only Bennettsville but a lot who come from an hour to hour and a half radius that would have had to travel to Columbia," Jorgensen said.
To help students, childcare is provided at an onsite daycare. The daycare is certified and is inspected by the state. Children ages six months old and up are accepted with normally about 10 youth. Parenting classes are also offered.
"You can get an education," Jorgensen said. "You can get workforce development, daycare and help with parenting. There is a lot more here than people know about. It is not just come and get an education. "
First Steps, which is currently located at Bennettsville Primary School, is moving to Adult Education this month.
Recent graduate Bonnie Bearden took advantage of all that Adult Education had to offer. While her daughter was in daycare there, Bearden worked on her GED. She started October 1 and recently took the last GED test and passed it.
Along with her GED, she has earned her silver WIN certificate.
Jorgensen said she is either ready to move on to college, go into the workforce or both.
Bearden said she was motivated by her boss who told her if she wanted to make more money, she needed to get her GED.
"This is what made me come back and now that I got it, I want to go to NETC to get my nurse's license," Bearden said.
She added earning a GED is not as easy as people think and is hard.
"Get your education and get a better job so you can do better things in life," she said.
The daycare was a big help since Bearden could focus on school and not worry about childcare.
Since she has graduated, she has encouraged others to come and get their education.
"I did it in two and a half months," Bearden said. "You can do it. You might go longer but you can do it. The teachers here help you. They are very supportive."
Jorgensen said they are proud of her and everyone who comes to Adult Education.
Each year, a graduation ceremony is held the Thursday before Memorial Day. It will be at 7 p.m. May 23 at the Marlboro Civic Center. The hour-long ceremony allows the students to have their family and friends present.
Bearden said her children are excited she is graduating.
"Even though she has finished, all students are allowed to come back to the graduation ceremony," he said.
Pamela Smith, college and career navigator at Adult Education, is the first one that the students see when they come in.
Some of her other duties include doing all the intake, getting them on track, doing interest inventories, exit interviews and setting everything up with colleges, military recruiters and SC Works.
"I feel good when people stay and succeed," Smith said. "It makes our program a better place."
Jorgensen said he would love for the new MARTi to have a stop at Adult Education and is in the process of reaching out to officials.
"A lot of adults may not have the transportation. Adult education does not provide transportation," he said.
Once students complete Adult Education, they are encouraged to continue education. Jorgensen said they have dual enrollment. "Everything at Northeastern Technical College does not require you to start with a high school diploma or a GED," he said.
He gave an example of two graduates who wanted to be nurses but didn't have their high school diploma.
Jorgensen said they worked on their diploma two days a week and three days a week joined the CNA program at NETC. They earned both their certificate and diploma.
The site on Broad Street is the main site. There are satellite centers at the federal prison, class at Olive Crone Graham Center, Bennettsville Housing Authority, Wallace Family Life, Vocational Rehabilitation, and McColl Elementary Middle School (night).
Jorgensen said January 7 is when the classes start and would love to have anyone who needs their services to come by. They have open enrollment every Monday and Wednesday of each week.
"We are an individualized program," he said. "We take the student where they are and talk to them to find out where they want to go. We do everything we can to get them there."
For more information, call 843-479-5923.