A Mission of Lifelong Learning
Writer / Alaina Sullivan
Photographer / Amanda DeBusk
Learning is a lifelong journey, and the road is not the same for everyone. For many, the formal learning road ends with the completion of a bachelor’s or doctorate degree, while for others, it ends with a high school diploma. For some, it never ends, and for some, it is just the beginning.
Empowering Adults Where They Are
Students at the Central Nine Career Center Adult Education Program come in for a variety of reasons. It does not matter why you are there — whether that be due to illnesses, incarceration, teen pregnancy or learning difficulties that have kept you from being successful in a traditional school setting. For many older adult students, they find their career paths or goals have changed, and they now desire to pursue another direction. Education does not require one specific reason and offers different benefits for everyone.
Central Nine’s mission statement encapsulates that perfectly: “As a provider of lifelong learning, the Adult Education Program at Central Nine Career Center is committed to inspiring adults to academic and personal development. Our mission is to empower adults through excellence in education, career pathways and life skills to achieve employment success in a diverse society.”
Central Nine hosts many different options for the adult learner including English-learning courses, Adult Basic Education (ABE) courses and courses to assist students in taking the high school equivalency exam. It is the hope of all the staff of Central Nine that their program can guide students toward finding that right career path. The first step is obtaining a high school diploma or the equivalent.
The statistics are staggering. According to Dropping Back In’s website, nearly 40 million adults in the U.S. lack a high school diploma. To put that another way, one in five adults does not have a basic diploma. Not only does the lack of a high school diploma place you at a higher risk of being unemployed, statistics show that people with no high school diploma are more likely to become teenage parents, live in poverty or abuse drugs or alcohol. Those numbers do not bode well for our society in general. Most basic jobs — even staffing and placement agencies — require a high school diploma or equivalent diploma at minimum. (Source: droppingbackin.org).
ABE classes offer adults the opportunity to review, learn and/or improve basic academic skills. These classes are designed to meet the needs of each student and prepare them to take the high school equivalency exam by focusing on five different subjects including mathematics, writing, reading, science and social studies.
ABE and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are offered through Central Nine in the mornings or evenings to allow for flexibility in students’ schedules and are offered in over 17 locations through Johnson County, Morgan County and Marion County’s Perry Township.
“Whether you resolve to work on your skills as a new speaker of English, earn your high school equivalency diploma or add vocational training and additional job skills to your resume, Central Nine Career Center Adult Education Division has classes to help you accomplish your educational goals,” said Gayle Brooks, Continuing Education Coordinator.
Students in the English Language Learner classes (ELL) do not speak English as a first language. ELL classes teach students the skills to increase their speaking, reading comprehension, listening and writing skills. To be enrolled in an ELL class, students must attend a mandatory, two-day orientation through Central Nine.
In addition to the basics, Central Nine offers Continuing Education courses to help people advance in their current careers or explore different areas.
“The successful completion of a Continuing Education course can result in students earning a state or nationally recognized certification in their career of choice including Emergency Medical Technician, Firefighting, Certified Nurses’ Assistant, Welding and Dental Radiology,” said Brooks.
Wide Range of Certifications
Central Nine Adult Education students can participate in WorkINdiana, a statewide program that allows students to attend short-term occupational training and receive industry-recognized certifications, which are in high demand. WorkINdiana allows students to attend classes at Central Nine and take a certification class at the same time. Alternatively, the student can first complete the high school equivalency exam and then begin certification classes within one year of completing the exam at no cost.
“These certifications lead to not only professions and good jobs but give students in Adult Education the confidence and empowerment to go on even further, such as promotions and even college,” said Corn. “Plus, these experiences in Adult Education help students with their lives at home both financially and emotionally.”
Currently, Central Nine offers 16 certifications including Health Care, Information Technology, Manufacturing, Transportation and Logistics.
“Over the last year, we have had WorkINdiana students gain certifications in CNA, Dental Assisting, Phlebotomy, Computer Support Specialists, Bookkeeping, Welding, HVAC, CDL, Aviation Maintenance and Forklift Certifications,” said Corn.
Life Coaches for Lifelong Learning
As a life coach, Corn helps students reach their personal goals at various stages of the learning process. These goals can be as simple as getting to class. Corn will assist students who have immediate needs like transportation by directing them to community resources and referrals. Corn then connects students with jobs, job skills training or post-secondary education options. Many times, a student may be unsure of what path to take. In that case, Corn and other life coaches will meet with the students, discuss the possibilities and conduct assessments to help them discover the right path for them.
“Helping a student to be successful and moving forward with a better job or into post-secondary job training is our focus,” said Brooks. “Our teachers, aides and life coaches assist in helping with that transition. Beyond passing the test, they help with job and college applications as well as career exploration, guiding the student to set goals and have a plan for their future.” Central Nine partners with educational organizations, schools, nonprofits, religious institutions and correctional facilities to provide these opportunities. The variety of sponsors and partners pairs well with the mission of lifelong learning.
“Lifelong learning allows individuals to maximize the opportunities of the ever-changing world around us,” stated Director of Adult Education Michelle Davis on Central Nine’s website. “Lifelong education is in our collective best interest. Central Nine Career Center is here for you today for your productive tomorrows. I look forward to becoming your lifelong educational partner.”