In 2006, unhappy with the mainstream educational system, 21 year-old Quebec native Kryssy Black decided to leave her province and head west. Her learning disability had made life at school challenging and she often felt misunderstood by her family. She was hopeful life in Vancouver would be better.
Unfortunately, she was soon faced with some serious financial and safety issues. She says it was clear to her that she needed to plug back into school and the best fit for her appeared to be Adult Ed.
Black began working as a cafeteria and kitchen volunteer at Gathering Place Education Centre. A friend who was studying there inspired her to look into the Adult Ed program available at the centre.
"I was hesitant to return to school," says Black. "I didn't really know many people at the centre and I felt insecure because of my learning disability."
When Black reluctantly walked through Gathering Place's door last year, staff helped her identify her strengths and weaknesses via an initial assessment. The assessment was designed to help her teachers understand what level of learning a prospective student is at. Staff and teachers then tailored instruction directly to the individual student's needs.
On December 2012, with more self-confidence, Black enrolled in Math Foundations 5 and Creative Writing 12.
The self-pace program Adult Ed offers, allowed Black to keep a flexible schedule. If she prefered to allocate more time to creative writing, she could do so without falling behind with her math.
Adult Ed's flexible model was reflected when Black was forced to put her education on hold for four months due to personal matters. Her teachers sympathised and let her know she could pick up where she left off when she returned.
Aside from the flexible classes, Black also says she always looks forward to the delicious buffets Gathering Place coordinates for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Upon graduation, she'd like to delve into the world of culinary arts.
"It's such an understanding and friendly environment," says Black. "Instructors are amazing. They are there for you until you truly understand something. Learning has become really enjoyable."
Since enrolling, Gathering Place staff say Black is thriving. It's clear that her priorities have changed drastically since 2006. Now, Black is focused on her studies and plans to graduate in September.
"I would not be studying had it not been for Adult Ed," says Black.