Column: 518 District Community Education Adult Education Department integrates technology into programming-Global Network

Adult Basic Education is a statewide program that provides residents with a wide range of learning opportunities at no cost.

The ABE Division of Community Education in District 518 is part of the Southwest ABE Consortium and manages adult learning opportunities for many school districts in the area. In-person classes are offered in Luverne, Fulda, Worthington, Windom, Fairmont, Sherburn, Westbrook-Walnut Grove, and Blue Earth.

This year, ABE coordinator Marty Olsen retired in July, and Stacy Everding, who has taught the program for 10 years, was hired as the new coordinator.

Since the resumption of face-to-face learning, Worthington’s intermediate and advanced English teachers have taught both face-to-face and online. This enables students to continue attending classes even if someone in the family is sick. Using technology in this way is a positive change as covid disrupts classrooms.

Worthington has the highest enrollment in the region. At the Worthington campus, classes are offered in five sessions during the day and evening. While classes have not returned to pre-entry levels, attendance is increasing. Classes often have 10-15 students in the room at a time.

In addition to offering face-to-face courses taught by local instructors, ABE also incorporates a variety of distance learning opportunities. All in-person students are enrolled in at least one distance learning program so that they can learn remotely. These remote learning opportunities have been an asset this month, as weather often interrupts in-person classes.

English language study programs are the most popular ABE programs. Additional courses include citizenship/citizenship, GED preparation, and digital literacy courses. ABE also partners with Career Force and Minnesota West Community & Technical College to provide career readiness training opportunities. Career preparation courses have been offered for certified nursing assistants, welding and community interpreters. Additionally, a paraprofessional preparation course was offered this year to help prepare new paraprofessionals to sit for the state-required paraprofessional competency exam. Because the class is doing so well in Worthington, South West ABE is creating a regional online version of it.

We also offer new regional online English courses. The online regional program offers five levels of instruction in English. All the instructors are from Mankato and the paraprofessionals are from the area. There are currently 118 students enrolled with 1,653 hours of attendance in November!

I would like to thank the staff hired through the ABE Division of ISD 518 Community Education. Faculty include: Sherri Boenke, Carol Coriolan, Kesia Escalante Dominguez, Kathy Fritz, Melanie Kuhl, Lisa Madison, Ruth Putnam, Laurie Varley, and Lisa Woll. Paraprofessionals include: Maria Biurquiz, Elvia Brinks, Emily Evers, Jezanie Ibarra, Carolyn Knigge, Maria del Sagrario Lopez Espinoza, Catalina Palma, and Blanca Vasquez Ramirez. The secretaries are: Rosa Hurtado Alm and Ingrid Mazariegos. These staff work well together and provide high-quality learning opportunities. We also appreciate the volunteers who help our students.

If you know anyone who is interested in learning English, earning a GED, or seeking career preparation opportunities, please encourage them to contact Community Education at (507) 376-6105 to sign up for an ABE orientation and registration session.

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