BRISTOL – Every community in Connecticut is mandated by state law to have their own adult education program or to participate in a regional program, said Lawrence Covino, Adult Education director. “We are lucky enough to have one of the more vibrant adult ed programs in Hartford County.”
Adult Ed is mandated to have a minimum of three programs: the adult secondary education programs, the English language courses, and the citizenship classes, he said.
Covino said Bristol residents have three different ways to earn a high school equivalency degree, all free, funded by the city and state. The best known one is the GED (General Education Development), in which students now have to pass four rigorous online tests, lasting up to six and a half hours.
Then there is the Credit Diploma Program, which is a more traditional option offered in the evenings with a classroom teacher.
The third option is the National External Diploma, an online program designed for working adults who do not have the time to come to the local adult ed facility on a regular basis. Students work from home independently completing online lessons and tests, and come in once a week or once a month to meet with an advisor.
“The state mandates that a local adult ed only offer one of these, traditionally it’s been the GED, but again we’re lucky enough in Bristol to offer all three programs,” Covino said.
There are approximately 6,000 Bristol residents who do not have a high school diploma, he said. “We are trying to do more marketing to get the word out.” We now offer classes at HRA on South Street, and at South Side School.
English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are offered four days a week, in the mornings and evenings. As of last fall, the ESL had students who spoke 26 different languages, he said. “To see them all in the same room, working so hard to learn English and assimilate, is amazing. I love it.”
Adult Ed recently brought the ESL students on a field trip to the state capitol to take a tour, meet with the local representatives, and watch some of the proceedings, as part of their citizenship education, he said.
Above and beyond these mandated programs, Adult Ed was the recipient of a Federal Program Enhancement Project Grant for $133,000, Covino said. “These funds are allowing us to expand our English as a Second Language Program as well as hire a full time Workforce Readiness Coordinator and a part-time transition counselor. These individuals are responsible for helping enhance our Adult Education curriculum by introducing workforce readiness skills into our GED, ESL and CDP classes as well as working to introduce our students to the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace.”
“It’s no longer just about getting them a high school diploma, we have to do more to help our adult learners transition from a job to a career. We now offer resume writing services and interview training classes as part of our regular classes,” he said.
“We have also added a Family Literacy Program and Spanish GED in Bristol. These programs help to support our diverse learners throughout the community,” Covino continued. “Our Family Literacy Program is designed to support parents in becoming their child’s first teacher by developing a stronger literacy background.”
Adult Education is also expanding its collaborative efforts with Tunxis Community College both in Bristol and Farmington by helping to prepare students for their Health Care Careers, and Manufacturing Programs, he said. “By working together we have already enrolled several adult learners in these programs.”
Knowing that childcare is a barrier to completing a program, Adult Education is teaming up with the state’s Office of Early Child to provide limited childcare.
“We hope to have this available in early October and we’re planning to offer it two nights a week. This will provide another support system to our most venerable adults in helping them complete their high school education,” Covino said.
For more information, call 860-584-7865 or visit adulted.bristol.k12.ct.us.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.