“This is a community that often gets things right,” said Steve Goldberg, CUNA Mutual Foundation executive director. “The Omega School is a great example of how this community is getting things right in terms of delivering value to young people [and] helping them to get what they need. In the 40-year history of Omega School, they’ve helped close to 5,000 people get their graduate equivalency or other degrees. They’ve made quite a contribution to the quality of life of not just those young people but for their families, their neighbors, and their entire communities.”
On Sept. 28, Omega School celebrated 40 years of providing individualized basic adult-educational instruction and support to adult learners as a means of improving the quality of their lives with a celebration at CUNA Mutual. Omega School offers GED and HSED instruction to help people earn their high school equivalency diplomas.
Founded in 1972, Omega (now officially known as Omega School Inc.) began as an alternative for young people who were not succeeding in a traditional high school setting. The homey environment, low student-to-teacher ratio, individualized instruction, and committed professional staff provided an appropriate learning environment for these students. Through the years, many changes have taken place with regard to client population, funding base, and structure, but Omega School still retains its dedication to educational excellence.
Omega School co-founders Steven Freedman and Toby Emmers were on hand to celebrate the special occasion at CUNA Mutual.
“Toby and I did a lot to lay the foundation for Omega. We had a glimpse of a vision of a program to help teenaged high school drop-outs get their GED so that they could go on to MATC or UW or get a better job or just be able to say that they achieved the GED when the message that they received their whole lives was that they were headed for failure,” Freedman said. “We didn’t build it alone and few things in this world are built without a supportive environment or infrastructure and support. We all depend on each other for success and no one does it alone. Omega is a real testimony to that.”
“Everyone who stands up for the right to education, for a better future with dignity — you now embody the hope, the courage, the dreams, and the inspiration involved in the day-to-day work at Omega,” Emmers added. “I applaud you and am honored to be here 40 years later.”
Omega School Executive Director Oscar Mireles presented Alderperson Shiva Bidar with the Friend of Education Award at the event and she thanked Omega for all that they do in the community.
Omega student Alysha Nedd was very emotional about the tremendous impact Omega School had on her life.
“I went from not believing in myself to believing in myself. I went from having no confidence to having all the confidence in the world,” Nedd said. “I went from thinking I failed my science test to having the highest score on that test out of all the tests that I scored on. In the six weeks at Omega, I felt better than I did for the 20 years I had been alive. My confidence has gone up and I am ready to graduate next week.”
“Oscar [Mireles] didn’t just help me get my G.E.D., he helped me to become a man,” said Jason Brent, a former Omega student. “I’m not his son. He didn’t owe me anything. But he and the Omega staff believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. He never gave up on me. He cared. He has done so much beyond me getting my G.E.D. It’s incredible to see that I’m about to graduate college. Omega means so much to a lot of people. Having a G.E.D. is not the ending; it’s the beginning.”
For more information about Omega School, which is located at 835 W. Badger Road on Madison's south side, call 256-4650.