By Sharon Johnson, District 518
WORTHINGTON - At a recent school board work session, Worthington District 518 Community Education was brought up. Since then, I have had several community members ask me for more information about what Community Education does and how many people we serve.
According to Minnesota statutes, the purpose of establishing a community education program is to make maximum use of the public schools by the community and to expand utilization by the school of the human resources of the community. Community Education exists in all Minnesota school districts.
Community Education is based on the principle that learning continues throughout life. It is an educational philosophy that stresses citizen involvement in the identification of community needs and interests. Thus, Community Education provides a wide-range of services such as educational activities; enrichment classes; academic courses; public forums; parent education; early childhood and school readiness opportunities; youth development; recreation; equity, integration and inclusion opportunities; senior programming; English education; citizenship preparation; and training to secure employment.
Locally, we have five departments within Community Education: Adult Basic Education, Early Childhood Family Education, Enrichment Programs, Community Connectors/Family Liaisons and Nobles County Integration Collaborative. The main Community Education office and classrooms are located at the West Learning Center, formerly West Elementary. Classes are offered in the West building, and in many other locations throughout the community and region. However, the Nobles County Integration Collaborative currently leases space at Minnesota West Community and Technical College due to the shortage of space in the school district facilities.
The number of people who participate in Community Education programming is more than many people realize. Each year more than 7,000 individuals participate in our programs. The average unduplicated number of people who participate in ISD 518 Community Education programs each week breaks down this way:
Average number of weekly participants: Adult Basic Education students 230; Adult Basic Education Childcare 90; Community Connector clients 22; Early Childhood Family Education children 97; Early Childhood Family Education parents 100; Early Childhood Family Education childcare 10; Enrichment program participants 30; Family Literacy parents and children 32; Family Liaisons parents/guardians 44; Nobles County Integration Collaborative students 185; School Readiness children 96. Total: 936
The District 518 Community Education staff works to enrich the lives of area residents by providing quality lifelong learning and civic engagement opportunities for people of all ages. Individual and family lives are enhanced through programs and activities that not only educate, but entertain, motivate, rejuvenate, and inspire.
We appreciate the people who take advantage of our programs and invite others to do so in the future. If you would like to get involved, our Community Classes & Activities catalog is distributed to area residents quarterly or information about our activities and registration is available online at www.isd518.net/commed. We hope to see you in one of our programs soon.
Sharon Johnson is District 518’s community education director.