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Adult Learning Centers Provide Essential Tools for Region Residents

July 27, 2018
Written by: Curtis Hankins
Photo credit: Ideas in Motion Media

Education is essential, be it primary school, high school, or college – every level provides skills necessary to succeed later in life or to find a career. Yet circumstances sometimes mean people go into adulthood having missed parts of school, or simply lack certain tools to excel in the workforce. For those individuals, or people looking to pick up new skillsets, the Center of Workforce Innovations offers adult learning services across Northwest Indiana.

The Adult Education and Learning Centers scattered across the Region in locations like Valparaiso, Crown Point, and Lowell offer opportunities for adults to continue an education they may not have completed in high school, or to pick up skills in English, computers, and other kinds of careers.

“For them to do this is a big step, it takes a lot of courage for most of them to come in,” said Kitty Meyer from the Center of Workforce Innovations. “We tell them ‘It’s okay, we understand not everyone’s path in life is the same and things happen.’ We’re just glad they’re here.”

The most common service people visit one of the many learning centers for is to earn a High School Equivalency Diploma. Others undergo English Language learning, or career planning through skills training by earning certifications like IC3, which is a benchmark for basic computer literacy.

Across the 7 counties in Indiana they serve, 461 individuals went on to acquire their High School Equivalency Diploma – setting them up for higher education or success in the workforce down the line. For the Center of Workforce Innovations, the key to success at their Learning Centers is the teaching staff on hand.

“Our dedicated group of teachers are very passionate about what they do,” Meyer said. “Without them, our Adult Education Centers wouldn’t survive. Their dedication to the students and trying to help them is what make the difference. They encourage them to come in, and make every step and milestone a celebration, and let the students feel joyous about what they’re doing.”

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For some Region parents, English is a second language and that can create some unique difficulties in preparing their children for school. Valparaiso’s Adult Learning Center started what they call a “Parent Academy” which trains enrolled students in the language skills necessary to navigate their children through English speaking schools such as reading notes, scheduling immunizations, and more. Programs like it are part of why the learning centers are far more than an average school. They provide their students with a variety of tools to meet individual need, allowing them to excel in both the workforce and life.

“We serve over 100 students a year with about 20 graduates who earn their HSE,” said Daniela “Danny” Mancusi-Shreve, Director and Lead Instructor of Valparaiso Adult Learning Center. “Anybody can get help by simply giving us a call. We can provide free training and we can get them into career pathways so that after they earn their HSE, they have something to do to support themselves and their families. We also help people prepare for the workforce by providing work ethic training, career readiness, and access to career pathways. There is no cost for the students whatsoever.”

The staff excel in their jobs, in part because they value each other along with their students.

“The relationships and friendships I’ve made here are just amazing,” said Ghusoon Altameemi, staff member and former student. “To get to know many people from different countries–it’s very nice. Now I have friends from China and Japan; to all the students, we are friends. It’s become a family.”

“There’s a unique camaraderie here even amongst the staff,” Mancusi-Shreve added. “The atmosphere here is amazing, just like Ghusoon said. We wake up everyday excited to see our coworkers and students! We learn from our students just as much as they learn from us.”

“We have so many untold success stories out there and we only hear about those few where we change people’s lives,” Meyer said. “We’re here for far more than helping people get their High School Equivalency diplomas, we’re here to help them. Whether that be helping them find a new career or to upgrade their skills – we’re here for them.”

For more information on how to become a student please call 219-916-7444 or email valparaisoalc@cwicorp.com.

Learn more about the Center of Workforce Innovations and their Adult Learning Center locations across Indiana at education.innovativeworkforce.com.

Copyright © 2017 Ideas in Motion Media

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