(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The U.S. Department of Education has crowned Missouri as first in the nation for academic gains for adult learners.
We visited the Webster Center here in St. Joseph to see what Missouri does differently for students for them to come out on top.
Maria Ramirez has just successfully completed another English assessment.
A few years ago, Maria couldn't call her children's school or schedule a doctor's appointment on her own, but now she can.
"I call for the doctor's appointments or the school," Ramirez said. "It's so easy for me now."
Ramirez started coming to the Webster Center so she could help her three kids with school.
"For help with homework for my kids and I come to school so I can try to understand what it says," Ramirez said.
Even though some lessons are harder than others, Ramirez says it's her teachers that push her to keep going.
"We want them to be successful citizens and contributors," Webster Center teacher Becky Jones said.
Staff like this is why Missouri is now the top state in the nation for adult student advancement.
"The number one things is our teachers really have a passion," Jones said.
Like the entire state of Missouri over 60 percent of the Webster Center's Adult Learning students advance at least one education level in the program each semester.
"In one semester one of them went up two advance in their levels," Betty Wymore said.
Missouri is no stranger to recognition from the U.S. Department of Education but that's not what teachers at Webster say they love what they do.
"We are their second chance for everyone anybody over the age of 18," Jones said. "We are the second chance they get in life because you can't ever give up," Jones said.
"For your life, it changes everything," Ramirez said.
The Adult Learning Program is free for all students. If you or anyone over 18 wants to get their GED or learn English, contact the Webster Center at 816-671-4072.