Array of courses offer new skills, fresh starts and inspiration
Sweetwater District's Adult Education Division is offering opportunities that are changing lives.
Free and low-cost courses help students gain job skills, study for the U.S. Citizenship exam, polish their English or earn a high school or general education diploma.
Students in the Child Development Teacher program develop mini-lessons that they then refine while working with pre-schoolers attending the Adult School's daycare.
"People are meeting their goals and getting a new start thanks to Sweetwater's Adult Education classes," said School Board President Pearl Quiñones. "These courses give people a chance to discover new strengths and develop new interests."
More than 16,000 students attend classes at four adult school campuses--Chula Vista, National City, Montgomery and San Ysidro. Classes are also held at convenient meeting locations in recreation centers, elementary schools, public libraries and community agencies. Worker-friendly class schedules make continuing education accessible to even the busiest adults.
At Montgomery Adult School many students find their job prospects multiply after taking Career Technical Education classes.
Pre-schoolers in the daycare program demonstrate their yoga poses.
Teacher training in Early Childhood Development is one of the most popular course sequences.
A morning with the students finds them shuttling between classwork and working with the pre-schoolers at the Adult School's daycare. In one semester, students learn every aspect of managing and operating a pre-school and earn a certificate in Child Development.
"Students not only learn about child development, but we help them develop skills that will allow them to succeed as they go on to community college or start on a career," said Anel Martinez, Montgomery Adult Schools 2012 Teacher of the Year.
A floral design student works on filling out a St. Patrick's Day centerpiece.
By the time they complete the program, students understand the theory of early childhood development and also learn to make presentations, write a research paper and a professional resume.
Practical skills are built daily as students provide lessons for the children attending the on-campus babysitting service next door to the Child Development classroom.
Thanks to the comprehensive curriculum and training, the Child Development Teacher program has built an impressive job placement record for its students.
"Some students go on to open their own child care centers or pre-schools. Others become teachers or go to work for agencies such as the YMCA or Head Start," said Martinez.
Another popular course sequence is Floral Design. Students in these courses also regularly find jobs in shops, wedding/event decorating and supermarket floral departments. Along with flower arranging, students learn about the elements of design and all aspects of the floral industry.
Both Child Development and Floral Design classes allow students to earn college credits too, because the curriculum is aligned with Southwestern College and is transferable to the community college.
"Our adult education program changes lives for the better," said Superintendent Ed Brand. "The number of these students who go on to college, earn their high school degrees, succeed on their citizenship exams and get jobs is a testament to the excellent faculty. We have a terrific roster of courses that offer something for everyone who wants to continue learning."