To reach more Elm City residents, New Haven’s Adult and Continuing Education Center has moved teachers to three satellite locations.
The center has formed partnerships with three New Haven nonprofits to provide classes throughout the Elm City. Project MORE and Elm City Communities, the local arm of federal housing programs, will now host General Educational Development classes instructed by the center’s teachers. JUNTA for Progressive Action, which works to empower New Haven’s immigrant communities, will offer a GED and an English as a Second Language course. The satellite locations — located in the Dwight, Downtown and Fair Haven neighborhoods — are being utilized as the district attempts to make the most of limited financial resources said Fallon Daniels, the center’s principal.
“[The state] cut deeply into out budget [this year],” Daniels said. “For me, that meant our finances need to go directly to the needs of our community. We need to come together and work smarter with what we have, and that’s ultimately how we came together to start brainstorming.”
Daniels, who took over as principal at the end of July, said she had kept a close watch on school attendance the first semester and observed that transportation barriers often prevented students from attending class. She added that a lack of child care is another issue that affects students and that the center is looking into adding vocational programs that support child care.
According to Daniels, enrollment fluctuates between semesters but the center had 800 students last term. She said she hopes to continue to partner with other organizations in New Haven to help community members better support themselves and their families.
DataHaven’s 2016 Community Index reported that in 2014, 10 percent of adults in the Greater New Haven Area and 18 percent of adults in New Haven did not have a high school diploma.
Mary Elizabeth Smith, program director for adult education and community outreach at JUNTA, said the organization is starting a GED course that will be taught in Spanish. She explained that many of the intended participants speak some English, but that the GED program is extremely challenging, especially if in one’s second language.
Many of the students that will attend the JUNTA classes have bachelor’s or master’s degrees in their home countries but still need to pass the GED in America, she added.
“There’s this idea that immigrants are unskilled workers, when really a lot of people come here with really important skills and knowledge that help this country grow,” Smith said.
Donna Violante, executive director of Literacy Volunteers of Greater New Haven, said there are already large numbers of adults who need to improve their English speaking abilities and literacy, adding that this number will grow as New Haven becomes more diverse and hosts more immigrants and refugees.
Students can register for classes, which are free for Elm City residents, at any of the four sites.
In addition to the GED and ESL courses, Continuing Education also offers courses such as “Keyboarding Typing Skills for the Computer,” “Mortgage Basics,” “Financial Strategies For a Successful Retirement” and “Basic Fitness.” But not all of those additional classes are free.