The Learning Curve

Carroll, Oldham adult education
making life easier for area residents

English classes, employment testing offered

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(December 2003) –Education has always been a fundamental priority in Oldham County, and recently big steps were taken to overcome illiteracy within the county. Educational needs are being met through a program instituted by the Oldham County Board of Education.
Suzette Ertel, program manager for the Adult, Community and Family Education Programs, is excited that the county is equipped to meet “any kind of educational needs.”

Adult education testing

Photo by Don Ward

Applicants testing in Carrollton for
jobs at North American Stainless.

The Board of Education was awarded a $247,000 grant to fund an Adult Education and Family Literacy Program, with $63,000 coming from the federal government and $184,000 from the state. The grant is awarded on a two-year cycle, and the board had previously withdrawn its request for the 1999-2000 year, due to demographic results. There are now enough participants to renew this program.
This enables the board to offer free services to the community, said Ertel. A staff of nine helps the adult learners prepare themselves to take the GED test and offer Family Education to families, she said.
The current version of the program is brand new, said Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Charleen McAuliffe, Ed.D. It is an opportunity to learn English, provide a support system, promote success and it gives adults the opportunity to learn new employment skills, she said.
Ertel follows a state model for this program, which targets people who have come to realize they may need more education. Reggie Mattingly is the main instructor for classes in which students are assessed in five basic areas: language, reading, mathematics, science and social studies. An instructional plan is created for each individual student based on the areas in which they need instruction, said Mattingly.
People feel comfortable with the one-on-one mentoring and tutoring services offered to them, said Mattingly. Basic classes are currently offered two evenings a week in the Learning Center, which is housed at the Board of Education office in Buckner. Classes began Sept. 9, and Mattingly is aided by one instructional assistant.
When students are ready, they are reassessed and given a GED practice test at the Learning Center. Minimum scores must be achieved and, when ready, an appointment is made with a certified GED testing center.

Julie Egle

Photo by Don Ward

Julie Egle (right) teaching English
to Hispanic students in Carrollton.

Five students were recently sent to Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative in Shelbyville to take their GED. Participants receive results within three weeks.
Ertel said she is hoping to hire another GED instructor and expand hours. By July 2004, the Learning Center should relocate its facilities into the Oldham County Arts Center in Crestwood, having an entire wing to itself.
An added feature to the program is that it offers training for employability skills. A technology instructor assistants participants in areas of special needs, such as brushing up on computer skills. By December, the center’s staff hopes to provide on-site training at several business locations within the county.
“It’s very rewarding to see people come in and see them leave happy,” said Ertel. After a student has successfully received their GED, Ertel said they are strongly encouraged to go on to pursue some type of post-secondary education. Mattingly said such opportunities open doors for students who seek further education, “If not formally, then on the job.”
In addition to providing adult education to individuals, family literacy is a target of this program. At this point in its conception, most of the families involved are 98 percent of the Hispanic population here in Oldham County, said Ertel.
“We have a real mix,” she said of the classes, which contain participants from Italy, Iran and the Ukraine. Three staff members are bilingual, and strong emphasis is placed on teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at the center.
Classes usually average 15 students, and participants are encouraged to bring their children. A program for second through fifth-graders, and one for middle- and high school-aged children is available while their parents attend classes. Resources, such as computers, are offered for the children to use while their parents study.
Instructional material must remain in the classroom, but supplemental resources are readily available, said Mattingly. Online tutorials assist those who may be homebound, and several branches of the Oldham County Public Library are offering their computer services for students who may not have access to a computer. There really is an increasing avenue for a variety of ways in which students can complete their assignments, said Mattingly.

Lisa Stethen, Shirley French

Photo by Don Ward

From left, adult education coordinators Lisa Stethen and Shirley French JCC.

"As the number of families increases, so will funding opportunities,” said McAuliffe. The Learning Center currently has 15 used computers in their lab but the staff hopes to purchase new ones eventually. They would also like to assemble a library.
A former middle school instructor, Mattingly said there is a different type of atmosphere associated with education at the Learning Center. Most students are ages 19 and up. “They have matured and learned from their mistakes. They know what they really need and are so sincere about learning. If a person has goals and wants to be here, they can accomplish something,” Mattingly said.
She cites retention as the biggest problem with any GED program. Students must juggle their time between family, illnesses, work schedules and any many other obstacles to etch out spare time for themselves for learning.
As an incentive, the Board of Education has now partnered with Jefferson Community College’s Carrollton Campus to offer four college courses in Oldham County. Registration will be held at Oldham County High School from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 6. Each class is a three-credit hour class offered for $79 per credit hour, plus a $25 administrative fee and the cost of the textbook.
JCC Campus Director Susan Carlisle said she met with Ertle because she wanted to be able to offer classes in Oldham County. “If it takes off, we will provide more,” said Carlisle.
JCC would like to accommodate as many school districts as possible in similar ways, she said. JCC offers small classes, personal contact and is an advantage economically, she said.
Carroll County also offers Adult Education and Family Literacy Programs, which provide GED preparation, ACT and SAT preparation, pre-employment assessment, and ESL classes. Classes are held in the Learning Center, located on the third floor of the campus building at Fourth and Main streets in Carrollton.
Julie Egle is an ESL instructor who goes out of her way to assist the high percentage of Hispanic students. She travels to their homes, to the Mexico Lindo Grocery in Carrollton, and teaches ESL at the campus. She even prepares student to take the GED in Spanish if they need to.
“If you want to have any students, you have to have home visits,” she said. Some of her students are homebound mothers who have no means of transportation, so she goes to them.
Egle has even written instructional materials herself. “After doing this for so long, I realized what they really needed to know,” she said. “They just need to learn English to survive better in this country.”
She has such a good grasp on the Hispanic language due to several trips she has made to Mexico. Through learning and studying, she has improved her understanding of a language once foreign to herself.

Hours of Operation:

Oldham County Adult & Family Education hours:
Mon. & Wed. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Tues. & Thurs. 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Fri.-9:30 a.m. 3:30 p.m.
ESL classes are offered Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 6-8 p.m.
Information: Call Suzette Ertle at (502) 222-3736

Carroll County Adult & Family Education hours:
Mon. & Wed. 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Tues. & Thurs. 3 p.m.-8 p.m.
ESL classes are offered Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 6-8 p.m.
Information: Call Lisa Stethen at (502) 732-7102

Tutoring is offered to individuals at the campus, but plans for math and writing classes are under way, said Lisa Stethen, who coordinates these programs. These subjects are usually the skills students seek to improve, she said.
Carroll County in June 2003 was awarded an $114,000 grant from the Kentucky Department of Adult Education and Literacy to launch such a program. The Family Literacy Program teaches participants that the parent is the first teacher, said Stethen. The first step is for the parent to upgrade his skills, so the parent can, in turn, assist his children with homework.
Many Hispanic parents are unable to read simple handouts teachers send home with students, said Ertle. They cannot respond properly to the things many of us take for granted, she said.
Stethen said that while every county in the state has adult education and literacy programs, not all partake of an affiliated program, the Jobs for American Graduates, or JAG program. Carroll County does, and offers these services to the surrounding counties that are without it. For the last five years, the JAG program has been offered as a school-to-career program targeting 16-21-year-olds.
JAG specialist, Chuck Roberts, said this program originated as an in-school program, then developed into a dropout prevention and recovery program. While a few participants do contact him on their own, it is up to Roberts and fellow JAG specialist Becky Reynolds to track down the students. The most frustrating part of his job is “finding them, and then motivating them,” he said.
Reynolds said there are many positive outcomes to the program. If the students have a job when they enter the program, the training they receive will enable them to get a raise, promotion, attain a GED or get a job if they don’t have one. For Reynolds, it’s all about helping the youth. She helps them “find out there’s something out there for them.”
Ertel has quite a bit of confidence in the future success rate of Oldham County’s Adult Education and Family Literacy Programs. “It’s great to know our program had a part in someone’s higher education,” she said.



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