MICHIGAN CITY — A new satellite location of the LaPorte County Adult Education program seeks to bring high school equivalency preparation directly to students.
LaPorte County Adult Education staff, joined by representatives of the Michigan City Housing Authority, had an informal open house Wednesday for their new satellite site in the community room of the Lakeland Estates public housing development with the program’s first series of classes beginning later that day.
“Community in Michigan City was at its best when we had neighborhood centers and community centers,” said Daniel McKinney, an instructor for the program. “It was a working relationship between the school system and the community. So we need to bring that back. And we need to meet them where they are.”
The satellite center comes as a partnership between the A.K. Smith Career Center, the Michigan City Housing Authority and WorkOne, which will provide job application coaching and other wraparound services.
Fred Greene, director of adult basic education at the career center, spent the afternoon Wednesday knocking on doors to invite residents to drop by the open house, pick up a slice of pizza and learn more about adult education opportunities in their neighborhood.
In keeping with coronavirus social distancing protocols, the satellite center’s first class will be small, starting out with only about 10 students in its night program.
Day classes may be added if enough students are interested, Greene said.
“We have an underserved community here that doesn't have, always, the means of transportation to get to A.K. Smith to get some of the things that they need,” Greene said of the new Lakeland Estates satellite center. “And, we have a facility here ... and it hadn't been used for a while. This needs to be utilized in this community to meet the immediate needs of this community.”
The Lakeland Estates center serves as an extension of adult education programming offered at the A.K. Smith Career Center in Michigan City. The LaPorte County Adult Education program also offers satellite classes at WorkOne in LaPorte and expanded into online courses with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
The program allows adults who withdrew from high school to study for the high school equivalency exam, brush up on soft skills and take the steps to prepare for long-term employment.
The program is flexible, allowing students to attend class and complete the required 36 hours of high school equivalency exam preparation at their own pace.
A more rigorous, nontraditional “boot camp” course is offered at A.K. Smith Career Center for those seeking to complete their high school equivalency prep in about a month, Greene said.
But, the adult education supports don’t stop after students take their HSE exam.
“Our goal is that once they complete this program that they're not finished,” A.K. Smith Career Center Principal Delincia Smith said. “We know that this is just their foundation. So, we're looking at short term training opportunities for those students once they complete their HSE, and we're working with other partners to make sure that they can obtain certification in a specialized skill area.”
Though the program has seen about half as many students this year due to the pandemic, Greene said the career center’s adult education programs have seen high rates of success among those enrolled.
“We are excited about this joint venture,” said Milton Malone, a member of the Michigan City Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. “We know that it will be profitable for the people in this community.”
The only expense for interested students is the cost of the high school equivalency exam. Financial assistance may be available.
For more information on the LaPorte County Adult Education program and the high school equivalency exam, see educateMC.net/adulted.