By Cole Parkinson
With 2021 in the last months of the year, Taber Adult Learning is continuing to bring a variety of courses to the community, including online courses as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
“The Vibrant Learning catalogue came out and we’ve got some classes coming up,” explained Rebekah Fehr, project manager. “We are having some online information sessions for seniors. Service Canada will be offering those for online and they cover the various senior programs out there, like the Pension Plan and old age security, things like that. We also have some basic computer classes coming up. So digital literacy — people can contact us if they want to learn more about those classes. We have our standard English language learning classes as well. We have a wide variety for any level of English Language learner.”
Taber Adult Learning also has a program that will see its start in the middle of this month.
“Our Work Foundations program is beginning in the middle of November. So for employers who may have seasonal employees who need to improve their English language skills or academic skills, this is the right program for them. It runs from the middle of November till the end of March,” added Cindy Slenders, executive director.
The pair also highlighted Taber Adult Learning is always looking for volunteers to help with a variety of its programming.
“We have a volunteer program that assists not only English as second language learners, but also assists people who are trying to improve their academic skills — maybe getting their General Equivalency Diploma (GED),” stated Slenders. “We’re always looking for volunteers.”
In terms of what the group is looking for, it was explained anyone could volunteer. With many different programs available, Taber Adult Learning says they can find anyone a place amongst its volunteer base.
“We’re looking for a wide variety of tutors with subject areas. We’ve got people working with learners who are working on very basic reading and writing skills, to English conversations, to people learning for their learners Class 7 exam, to people looking at higher academic math or things like that to get into GED classes or entrance exams. There’s really a spot for anybody who is interested in volunteering. There are also options to volunteer online and meet with their students over Zoom. The schedule is pretty much whatever works for people — whatever time they can offer us, we can find a student they can work with the time they are available,” added Fehr. “Volunteer tutoring is a great way to contribute to your community. It’s also a great way to get to know people in the community and it is certainly appreciated any time someone can offer us that way.”
But, like any other business, the group is also under many different restrictions with the pandemic still ongoing.
Good news though, as there are still online courses available and any classes that make sense to do in-person are still offered that way.
“We follow Alberta Health Services orders and we have to follow the policy by Alberta Advanced Education. We have chosen not to require proof of vaccination, so unless we are forced to, we will not. Because we are not, masking and social distancing is required and it is one-third capacity in all in-person programs. We do have a number of programs we are offering online and our online programs filled up very quickly this year,” stated Slenders. “It’s been a little bit of a safari, and I think any business out there would tell you it’s been a bit of a journey. We have continued to provide services and classes, taking into account any restrictions we need to. We have had to put programs online at times and we have used WhatsApp as a way to communicate with people as well. We have put up guards and social distancing measures to try and provide in-person classes for programs when it makes the best sense to provide them in-person. We remain flexible in doing whatever it is we need to, to meet the community needs.”
Despite the challenges COVID has brought, it hasn’t deterred the group at Taber Adult Learning at all.
And they’re still hoping to celebrate a big milestone.
“This is TDCALA’s 50th year in serving the community, so it is our golden anniversary of service. Details are in the planning stage with staff and board members, and we look forward to providing further details as those come out,” continued Slenders.
Even though the pandemic hasn’t been fun for anyone, the organization says they have learned lots throughout the last few years.
“We’re very excited to be maintaining an online presence after COVID because there are a lot of learners that it provides them the opportunity to attend where they wouldn’t be able to otherwise,” stated Slenders. “We wish to thank the community for their ongoing support of the programs and we’re ever open to ideas and suggestions. So, if anybody has something, please let us know.”
For more information on Taber Adult Learning and to keep up-to-date on any classes being offered, visit taberadultlearning.com/community-learning.