Never to young or old to get educated

BURLON WILKERSON
news@dibollfreepress.com

There is more going on than meets the eye at the Diboll Family Education Center.  Although it is considered part of Diboll ISD, programs and activities for all ages from infants to adults are in place for anyone who wants to take advantage of them.
Adult education under the direction of Becky Baer is one facet of services offered.  These services include Adult Basic Education, Adult Secondary Education, and General Education Development (GED).  All of these programs are designed to facilitate transition into college or jobs/careers as well as school and community involvement.
“In the past we have also offered adult computer literacy classes,” said Center Director Charlotte Morris.  “If we have enough requests, we could do so again.  Our current approach is to help people find particular web sites that provide the information or training they desire and then let them work individually at their own pace.”
English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are also under the Adult Education umbrella. ESL classes are designed to achieve the same goals as the other Adult Education classes.  In addition, immigrants have the opportunity to prepare for and apply for citizenship. Baer is assisted in this area by Gloria Valdez, and Angelina College is in the process of hiring more part-time help for morning classes.
“The college is the fiscal agent for our Adult Education, and we’ve worked with them since the beginning of our program,” explained Morris.  “GED and ESL hours become part of the college data, which in turn can affect funding.”
This entire section of the Center is under the oversight of Deep East Texas Workforce Solutions.  Consequently, there are certain federal and state performance measures which must be met in order to continue its operation.
On the opposite end of the age spectrum, the Center provides Early Childhood Education.  Karen Barkley oversees care for children of the adult students.  As the children grow beyond infancy, the staff pulls the older group out for specific educational activities in anticipation of their enrollment in public school.
Twice a month during the school year, the Lumberjack Express goes to two day-care facilities.  The Express is a school bus which has been converted into a mobile library.  On each trip a volunteer reads to the children, and day care personnel can borrow material if they desire.
“Interactive Literacy Activities (ILA) provide a tie-in between Early Childhood and Adult Education,” said Morris.  “Through the Family Literacy Grant, we bring parents and children ages 1-7 together once a week to work and study in order to help  parents see how to help their children.”
Carlye Morris oversees the ILA, and her duties also include directing parent involvement throughout the school district.  She provides training for volunteers and mentors and does documentation for the federal Title I program.  This documentation involves record-keeping of volunteer hours, parent/school compacts at the lower grades, and the parent involvement policy for the district.
For high school ages, the Center is the site of Lumberjack Academy.  This is a computer-based educational system which offers almost any subject needed and which allows students to work at their own pace.  Tutors are also available when necessary.
“We have them for various lengths of time according to their individual needs,” Charlotte Morris said.  “If they can’t participate in regular classes for any reason such as pregnancy, a felony conviction, or behavior problems, and if they don’t qualify to enroll at Stubblefield Learning Center, they can still earn their diploma here.”
Community services is the final division of the Education Center.  Under this banner they have a summer enrichment program and community service classes.  “Boredom Busters,” fun and educational activities for kids, were offered in June.  Last year the Center teamed up with the high school culinary arts department to provide cooking lessons.  And in January, School Police Officer Jason Burrous will teach a self-defense class.
“All of our services are available to everyone, and we can always use volunteers,” concluded Morris.  The Center is located on the old Temple Elementary campus at 299 South Neil Pickett Drive.  Their phone number is 829-3744.
The annual Literacy Luncheon will be held at noon on Nov. 20.  This fundraiser usually costs about $25 per person, and this year’s event will include a silent auction featuring desserts.  The site will be the cafeteria facility on the campus.  Anyone interested in attending or sponsoring a table can contact the Family Education Center.