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By Rosalind Marshal
Special to The SUN
One hundred and twenty-five people became a little better educated at the Education Center’s 25th anniversary fund-raising luncheon last Wednesday.
One of the purposes of the luncheon is to raise awareness about the Education Center’s many valuable programs, and to inform the community about its successes. The other reason, naturally, is to raise funds to continue these crucial educational offerings, especially as the Education Center is the sole provider in Archuleta County for GED, adult ESL, college classes and many other programs. On both accounts, the 25th anniversary celebration achieved high grades, with a presentation on educational research from the guest speaker and testimonials from our student speakers.
Finessa Ferrell, featured speaker from the Colorado Legacy Foundation, spoke of the need to give students a safe and inspiring place to learn. Ferrell is the director of Health and Wellness at the CLF, and shared fascinating details of new research in the field of education. By understanding the adolescent brain, and the strong emotional and impulsive hardwiring, educators can work with students to reduce stress and anxiety, increase motivation and understand how students become engaged in learning. Ferrell’s program aptly focused on the mindset of young learners, and the title, “The Heart-Mind Connection: Helping Students Achieve Success,” conveyed the importance of making each student feel that they matter.
Four student speakers, who definitely know they matter, spoke of their struggles and successes in education.
Natalie Pentall talked about dropping out of high school and how she made the decision to achieve her GED, then gain a place at the Air Force Academy.
Elena Frank, representing the English as a Second Language program, spoke of her goals as a recent immigrant and the importance of learning English in achieving those hopes and dreams.
Nahtanha Rae Sell, from the Southwest Colorado Community College program (a division of Pueblo Community College), talked about her struggles as a teenager, and how the English class she is taking with Beverly Arrendell is inspiring her to a career in creative writing.
Mayzie Burton, from the Archuleta County Alternative High School Diploma Program, shared how she values the opportunity to be part of the alternative high school, and aspires to become a child psychiatrist.
All four students gave their testimonials in a confident and professional manner, having rehearsed and practiced their speeches over the last few weeks. For all the students, this was their first time speaking to a large crowd and using a microphone. They received enthusiastic applause from the audience. The experience of sharing their stories is a great confidence booster for the students, and many past attendees have commented on the huge impact of hearing personal histories confirming the value of the Education Center programs.
During the Education Center’s 25-year history, thousands of students have benefitted from local opportunities in education that ultimately enrich the community of Pagosa Springs. The community came out in force to support this valuable educational resource, and validate the importance of the Education Center’s reason for being, and vision for the future.
On Friday, March 15, eight GED students took a total of 19 tests in our second round of GED testing for FY13. All eight students passed their tests, with one achieving a perfect 800 score. The next scheduled testing date for GED will be the third week in April.
In English as a Second Language, student numbers for the current year are high, with many students attending class regularly to achieve a steady improvement in their English skills. The current class includes students of five nationalities: Mexican, Thai, Ukrainian, Colombian and Guatemalan.
Two levels of Quickbooks classes, Intro and Advanced, will be held May 4 and 11, taught by Betty Woollard. For complete information, see the website, www.ArchuletaCountyEducationCenter.com.
Classes in First Aid/CPR are held monthly, with a variety of class times to suit everyone’s schedule. The April classes will be Saturday, April 20, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sign up early to avoid class cancellation. For spring rafting guides and summer outfitters, two recertification classes will be held — May 11 and 22, so start looking for that almost-expired certificate, which is required in order to be eligible for a recertification class.
For more information, or to register for classes (at least three days prior to the class to avoid class cancellations), visit the website, www.ArchuletaCountyEducationCenter.com, where you can register and pay with PayPal. Or drop by the Education Center office (264-2835) on the corner of 4th and Lewis streets. Office hours are Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Friday 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.