Going back to school is never easy, especially if you have the added stresses of a fulltime job, kids and other commitments.
The Miramichi Adult Learning Inc. (MALI), in partnership with the Regional Adult Learning Coordinator for the Department of Post Secondary Education Training and Labour, offer adult education classes throughout Northumberland county. Now they are trying to make it even easier for people to upgrade their education by offering night classes.
“Thanks to MALI we are offering adult learners the option of a night class. We’re opening the door to students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend the daytime classes,” says Ann Morrissy, Regional Adult Learning Coordinator. “Parents and working people now have the opportunity to upgrade their skills at a time that is convenient for them. This is such an important service, and having a class like this is a great thing for our community.”
MALI is a non-profit organization offering programs in partnership with the Department of Post-Secondary Education Training and Labour, to people throughout the greater Miramichi region. They also administer nine Community Access Centres, now called E-Learning Centers, giving adults even greater access to information.
These adult education courses help people upgrade their reading and comprehension skills, among other needs, by giving them training for grade levels 1-9 and more. Also, they help adults who weren’t able to complete their high school education prepare for the GED (General Educational Development) testing.
MALI staff tries to encourage students to succeed by working at their own pace while in the comfort of a positive and supportive environment.
MALI educator Jennifer Carroll has taught daytime MALI courses for eight years and only started teaching the evening classes last year.
One thing Carroll noticed from the beginning is the dedication students have to finish their education.
“The thing with the night class is they have to do a lot of work at home because there’s not enough time to do everything in the three hours.” Carroll said. “Participants are there on their own; it’s their choice to be in this place so they’re usually willing to put the extra effort into it to work at home.”
“They are trying to get their GED so they have to put their heart into it,” Carroll said.
She also explained that having access to the evening programming is what makes the difference for some students to be able to finish their GED and for other students to be able to upgrade. But the bulk of the students are pursuing their GED.
“They’re all adults and a lot of them work all day. Then at 6 o’clock they come to school.”
Some students are so rushed and tired she even sees them eating their drive- thru supper in class just so they can be there to listen to what they need.
The course is offered three days a week from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in a classroom at NBCC – Miramichi Campus. Typically, there are about eight students in each course and they can range in age from 20 to 50. The course runs from September to the end of May, the same as the day classes.
Students have to cover materials for the five exams they have to complete to receive their GED.
“It’s a wide variety,” Carroll said.
Carroll said the response from the public has been strong now that word is spreading throughout the community that the evening course exists.
But more than anything, the course tries to accommodate students with difficult schedules.
Carroll explained that if a student can’t be there three nights a week because of work or family, they can be there two nights a week with more work to complete at home.
Carroll said students have shared with her the pride their children feel knowing their parents have gone back to school.
There is a number of reasons why her students left school in the first place.
“Some of them got in with the wrong crowd, some of them went to work so they had to quit school, or some of them had a family at a young age. There’s so many stories,” Carroll said.
The reasons for going back are just as diverse. Some want to move up the ranks in their jobs or they just had the desire to finish for years and finally found the courage to do it.
“Don’t hide what you know and don’t be afraid of what you don’t know,” Carroll advises her students.
Carroll realizes that a lot of students are timid when they first arrive. She jokes with them and introduces them to the others so it doesn’t take long for new students to feel comfortable in her class.
Carroll often hears back from the students she’s helped and sometimes they’ll see congratulatory notes from family in the local newspaper.
“It’s great to hear that we got them started,” Carroll said, noting that many of these students go on to receive other training.
Sometimes just seeing students at the May graduation is reason enough for Carroll to continue teaching.
“I had a father last year come up to me and thank me for helping his son – it’s a nice feeling,” Carroll said.
Miramichi Bay du Vin MLA Bill Fraser says having the night courses is very important to those wanting to upgrade their skills.
“A lot of people that want to upgrade are already in the workforce and it’s virtually impossible for them to go to school during the day so that gives them the flexibility to be able to upgrade.”
“The New Brunswick Community College has partnered with MALI and they’re offering the space to provide the classes free of charge and that’s a benefit,” Fraser said.
Fraser, who’s upgraded his own skills throughout the years, understands how important access to education at night can be to students.
Fraser is a Miramichi entrepreneur and noted that he began taking evening university courses through University Programs on the Miramichi Inc. several years ago.
Had those not been offered in the evenings, Fraser said his busy daily schedule might not have allowed him to take those courses.
“The night courses are very important.”
Since being elected in 2006, Fraser has attended every MALI graduation.
“Those people work very, very hard,” Fraser said noting that the age ranges span those in their early 20s to those more senior. “They’re so proud to be able to get their diplomas and be able to graduate. Their families are proud.”
For more information on Miramichi Adult Learning classes contact Ann Morrissy, Regional Adult Learning Coordinator, Department of Post Secondary Education Training and Labour 506-778-5261.
Fri Mar 27 2009