By: Curtis Hankins
October 21, 2019

Adult education is growing as more and more people around the Region are attending classes at Adult Learning Centers to complete their high school educations, learn advanced skills, and find their way into a long and fruitful career. These programs help adults earn their High School Equivalency (HSE, previously known as the GED) and certificates in a variety of fields, such as nursing assistance or childcare.

“I love to raise the floor,” said John Schlatter, Assistant Manager of Adult Education for Center of Workforce Innovations, the regional provider of Adult Learning Centers. “I feel like when we help people get their HSE and these other training, we’re raising the entire house off the ground by helping those who need it most. It’s incredibly valuable and really touching to see.”

Every month, Adult Learning Centers across Northwest Indiana have produced new success stories for people from all kinds of backgrounds. Jayana Wolak, a single mother to a little girl with another baby on the way, did it for her kids. She was holding down a minimum wage job to provide for her family, but felt stuck and decided to enroll at the Hobart Adult Learning Center to help prepare for the HSE exam.

“Before my run-in with Adult Education, I held a heavyweight on my shoulders,” Wolak said. “I knew minimum wage was not what I wanted for the rest of my life. I needed greater options.”

She hit the books hard, completing every packet of homework given to her and studying at the library when the center was closed. Two months later, she earned her paraprofessional certification and HSE. She’s now employed full-time and is working toward her long-term goal of becoming a teacher.

“My children became my biggest motivation,” she said. “Self-completion would have to be another top motivator. My goal for winter 2018 was to obtain my HSE. The Hobart Adult Learning Center was there for me to make it happen.”

Wolak’s story is not unusual. According to Schlatter, many of their HSE students are able to complete their programs in four to six weeks.

“It’s not a mountain that they can’t climb,” he said. “We remediate them on exactly what they need to pass the test and then send them on their way.”

Other students take part in certain programs for a much longer time, such as Crown Point Adult Learning Center’s Wei Hsin Yang. Yang felt lonely in the U.S. due to her language barrier. Communication was hard, and the barrier often left her completely misunderstanding people, like her daughter’s teacher. She and a friend decided to enroll in English Language Learner classes, which Yang claims was a life-changing decision.

“There’s not just one best part of the program,” she said. “All of it was definitely helpful in my life.”

She spent two years studying at the Adult Learning Center. With her work ethic, she gained enough English proficiency to graduate into the Adult Basic Education program, earn her HSE, and become a certified paraprofessional.

“We really feel like kind of a life skills center,” Schlatter said. “We just happen to focus on HSEs and job training.”

To learn more about the Center of Workforce Innovations including their adult learning programs, visit https://www.cwicorp.com/adult-learning-center/.

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