According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, Bloomington’s unemployment rate is around 6% after a steep increase in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Monroe County Community School Corporation is taking part in a new initiative to bring education to those out of a job or in need of career change.
“Moving Ahead with Adult Ed” is a collaboration between the Coalition on Adult Basic Education and the National Association of State Directors for Adult Education that began in early October. The national campaign provides resources to help adult education centers promote their services to their communities.
Rob Moore, director of the adult education program at MCCSC, believes adult education can help those who are immersed in a job search or are transitioning into another occupational field.
“We are going to use these tools and reach out to people in our community and let them know that we are still in business and we are even more flexible now,” Moore said. “We are able to respond to folks who need greater employment opportunities at this time.”
Both online and in-person classes are being offered and, with funding from the CARES Act, the high school equivalency test will be available for free until Dec. 30. In addition, the Workforce Ready Grant awarded over the summer has provided education to 49 students in adult education at MCCSC during the pandemic.
Moore has been involved in adult education since 2001. He said he has been inspired by students over the years and how those returning to school have transformed their lives.
“People are voluntarily coming back to school because they see value in it,” Moore said. “They see an immediate impact. They celebrate their successes, and it’s a joy to walk with them.”
The outreach initiative is being introduced as adult education enrollment has decreased across the state. According to Moore, state enrollment is down 42%. At MCCSC, enrollment has decreased by 15%, but Moore expects the campaign to bring more students in.
Moore reported a noticeable increase in Spanish-speakers enrolled in English language learning courses recently. Many are being taught by Tania Curruchiche, who teaches English language learning at MCCSC. Most of the classes she teaches are online over Zoom.
Curruchiche started her education in the U.S. at Ivy Tech before earning her master’s degree in English at IU East. She remembers being afraid at first that she would not be able to learn English as an adult. She recognizes these worries in her students but believes patience and encouragement can help anyone learn a second language.
“Life is not a race, it’s a journey, and this journey of education can always continue,” Curruchiche said. “Learning English is a lifetime process. If I can do it, anyone can.”
In addition, Curruchiche said the online format of classes allows many people to enroll that were too busy before.
“I have so many students that are now able to attend classes,” Curruchiche said. “They’re adults. They have responsibilities, children, family, work and everything else in life.”
Even with the introduction of online classes, the program is continuing in-person learning. Since the adult education program is a part of MCCSC, they follow the same guidelines. Face coverings are required, as is social distancing. They have had to restrict who is eligible to take the high school equivalency test to enrolled students only to reduce the number of people in the building.
Those interested in enrolling in classes through the adult education program at MCCSC can do so here.
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