Expanding Community Impact Leads to Adult Education’s New Name
Today’s IU13 “Adult Education” programs stretch far beyond conventional adult education classrooms.
Refugee children participate in after-school language and culture activities. Aspiring nurses take introductory health careers courses. Employers offer English language and workplace skills classes for employees. School teachers learn strategies for supporting international students. Parents learn to help their children become better readers.
As a result, in July the IU13 Adult Education program changed its name to IU13 Community Education, signifying ever-growing community involvement. Since beginning in 1971, the program has served thousands of adults through a variety of classes focused on transitions to employment and postsecondary education, such as citizenship, GED preparation, and English as a Second Language (ESL), and today its services continue to grow throughout our community.
“This name change signifies our commitment to meeting the needs of our communities,” says Tim Shenk, Program Director of Community Education at IU13. “With a name change to Community Education and the expansion of services, we are recognizing the broad impact that our program has on parents, workers, educators, and learners of all ages.”
One of the young learners benefiting from IU13 Community Education is 13-year-old Binit Gajemir. Since arriving in Lancaster as a refugee in April, Binit has participated in ESL conversation classes, extended-day activities, and a summer educational program. In addition to improving communication skills, participants “get to make friends and network with other refugees in Lancaster, which helps to increase their social adjustment,” says Josh McManness, Reynolds Community School Liaison. IU13 Community Education is lead agency for the Community School at Reynolds, which officially opens in September 2015 to provide community-based support services for refugees and immigrants in need, school families, and the Lancaster City community, particularly those with limited access to resources.
IU13 Community Education now offers services to public and nonpublic schools and colleges/universities, including parent education workshops, consulting services for educators, direct instruction for international students, and more. In addition, the program offers marketplace products and services, such as an online course for teachers of English language learners and an Academic Conversation Starters classroom tool.
Workplace education is another area of growth. Employers can arrange for on-site classes for employees through IU13 Community Education. Options include workplace English and Spanish, GED preparation, customer service, and financial literacy.
This range of educational opportunities helps community members succeed in their roles as workers, family members, and citizens. In the case of young Binit, the investment is paying off. “Binit likes living in the United States,” says his mother, Sipra Gajemir. “It’s good that he’s getting educated. It will help him in the future.”