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Ponoka and Rimbey Adult Learning Centre staff busy with expanding programs

An open house to showcase their services is planned for March 20
Sharon Schwab is the coordinator of Ponoka Adult Learning. (File photo)

It’s been a bustling season at the Ponoka and Rimbey Adult Learning Centre as staff and volunteers continue to spread the word about the range of opportunities available.

The centre was launched back in the early 1980s, said Sharon Schwab, Ponoka Adult Learning coordinator, adding the organization is run by a volunteer board of directors.

They also have a joint relationship with Red Deer Polytechnic, Olds College, and Campus Alberta Central.

Here in Ponoka, their facility features a state-of-the-art lab where the licensed practical nursing program takes place, and a health care aid program is available as well.

Besides these two programs, there is a broad selection of community learning opportunities.

“Our English language learners — that program is a steady stream,” she said.

“We have people from Ukraine, Morocco, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Vietnam. So that program is very active. Right now, I’m working with 14 newcomers who are learning English, and I have three tutors who are helping as well,” she said.

“And as far as the learning goes, it’s a two-way street. I learn so much from our newcomers! It’s a wonderful thing. It’s a very rewarding place to be in.”

Speaking of tutors, Schwab said they are always on the lookout for more help.

To that end, they recently hosted a tutor training session with about 15 people taking part.

“They were here to learn how to work with our newcomers, and also with our regular programs as well, such as teaching digital skills,” she said.

Meanwhile, solid partnerships are something of the backbone of the organization, too.

“We have a partnership with the Career Assistance Network from Red Deer, too. They come out on the first and third Wednesday of every month, and they help people in their search for work. They help with resumes, and they have a list of jobs that are available in the area,” she said.

“It’s a good partnership. We are also partnering with the Centennial Centre, and we are bringing in TD Bank, too. They have a program called Money Matters, so that is coming up, too.

“We are going to be offering workshops in budgeting, ways to save, shopping safety on the internet — those types of topics. People can register now for those as we are posting them on our Facebook page.”

Looking ahead, on March 20 there will be an open house for anybody in the area who would like to receive more information about what the centre provides via its programming.

This includes what is provided through Campus Alberta Central.

“They are the ones with the LPN and health care aid programs.”

The open house will be running from noon to 4 p.m.

Ultimately, Schwab said the centre’s mandate through Advanced Education is to provide literacy, numeracy, and digital skills along with skills for success at work.

There are courses to help folks bolster their reading and writing skills.

Also, courses in computer skills are offered throughout the year as part of that mandate, she said.

Learners can sign up to strengthen their financial literacy skills and their computer skills via courses in Microsoft, Word and Excel, to name a few.

In the meantime, she encourages those who are interested in signing up for a course to drop by and see what the facility is all about.

The centre closes for the month of July, but come August, the staff is back at it and eager to hear from the community in terms of what kinds of programming and learning opportunities they’d like to see.

“We are ready to hear what people are interested in,” she said, adding that they also take time to get out into the community to chat with organizations, businesses, and community members.

“What are you looking for, and what kinds of needs do you have?

“So we do a lot of that. Then we roll out in September with our mandated courses, and then there are others added throughout the year as people talk to us about what they need. We are here to serve the public.

“I’m also really happy with our facility. Everybody that comes in has said they feel comfortable here. We work hard to make it a friendly place.”

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Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the Black Press Media family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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