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Column: District 518 Community Education’s Adult Education department integrates technology into programming

In addition to offering in-person classes with a local instructor, ABE has integrated a variety of distance learning opportunities.

Stock image of textbooks by Alexander Grey on Unsplash.
Stock image of textbooks by Alexander Grey on Unsplash.
Alexander Grey / Unsplash
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Adult Basic Education is a statewide program providing a wide range of learning opportunities to residents free of charge.

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District 518 Community Education’s ABE department is part of the southwest ABE consortium and manages adult learning opportunities for many school districts in the region. In-person classes are offered in Luverne, Fulda, Worthington, Windom, Fairmont, Sherburn, Westbrook-Walnut Grove and Blue Earth.

This year, ABE coordinator Marty Olsen retired in July, and Stacy Everding, who taught in the program for 10 years, was hired as the new coordinator.

Since returning to in-person learning, the intermediate and advanced English instructors in Worthington teach in person and online simultaneously. This enables students to continue to attend class, even if someone in their home is sick. Using technology in this way is one positive change that occurred because of covid disrupting classes.

Worthington is the site with the highest enrollment in the region. At the Worthington site, classes are offered in five timeslots throughout the day and evening. Although classes have not returned to pre-enrollment levels, attendance levels are increasing. Classes tend to have 10-15 students in the room at a time.

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In addition to offering in-person classes with a local instructor, ABE has integrated a variety of distance learning opportunities. All in-person students are enrolled in at least one distance learning program so that they can study remotely. These distance learning opportunities have been an asset this month because the weather frequently interrupted in-person classes.

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English language learning classes are the most popular ABE classes offered. Other classes include civics/citizenship, GED preparation, and digital literacy classes. ABE also collaborates with Career Force and Minnesota West Community & Technical College to offer career readiness training opportunities. Career readiness classes have been offered for certified nursing assistant, welding, and community interpreting. Additionally, a paraprofessional preparation class was started this year to help new paraprofessionals prepare to take a state-required paraprofessional competency exam. Since this class went well in Worthington, southwest ABE is creating a regional online version of it.

We are also offering new regional online English classes. There are five levels of English taught with the online regional classes. All the instructors are from Mankato, with paraprofessionals from around the region. There are 118 students currently enrolled with 1,653 attendance hours in November!

I would like to recognize the staff employed through ISD 518 Community Education’s ABE department. Teachers include: Sherri Boenke, Carol Coriolan, Kesia Escalante Dominguez, Kathy Fritz, Melanie Kuhl, Lisa Madison, Ruth Putnam, Laurie Varley and Lisa Woll. Paraprofessionals include: Maria Biurquiz, Elvia Brinks, Emily Evers, Jezanie Ibarra, Carolyn Knigge, Maria del Sagrario Lopez Espinoza, Catalina Palma, and Blanca Vasquez Ramirez. Secretaries are: Rosa Hurtado Alm and Ingrid Mazariegos. These staff members collaborate well to provide high-quality learning opportunities. We are also grateful to the volunteers who assist our students.

If you know anyone interested in learning English, getting a GED or seeking career readiness opportunities, encourage them to call Community Education at (507) 376-6105 to sign up for an ABE orientation and enrollment session.

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