When individuals come knocking on Adult Education Centres' doors, staff at the schools always first ask them what their long term plans are. Staff say Adult Ed is all about teaching students how to develop strong management and leadership skills by providing them with a flexible class environment where they get to choose how to work.
Dana Alvaro is an outreach worker at Hastings Adult Education Centre. She says that Adult Ed staff are particularly effective with their students because they're able to appreciate and understand the varied background and life experiences of their students.
Justin Tolentino's life story is a good example of this. According to a recent article in the Globe and Mail, Tolentino went through 10 different high schools in Vancouver because he didn't fit the mainstream school model. He found it difficult to communicate with teachers or relate with other students. He wanted to change his life but had a distorted perception of how to do that because of lack of proper guidance.
In the Globe story, Tolentino admits he was heading down a self-destructive path. But at 17, he gave education another try. This time, he chose to continue his education with the Fresh Start program which provided him with a flexible, supportive and understanding environment. He found support every step of the way.
While he says it wasn't always easy, he credits his teachers and staff with helping him make progress and says it was the staff's unconditional support that was most important to his success.
"They stood by me and never judged me," said Tolentino in the article.
In 2012, at 20 years old, he graduated as class valedictorian.
Alvaro says Adult Ed centers accept a variety of students with diverse experiences including refugees, people struggling with substance abuse issues, single parents struggling with poverty as well as architects, engineers and professors who are new to Canada and have to start again. Staff say everyone is welcome and no one is judged.
To learn more about Adult Education programs, click here.