BRISTOL - Every community in Connecticut is mandated by state law to have an adult education program, said Lawrence Covino, Adult Education supervisor. “We are lucky enough to have one of the more vibrant adult ed programs in Hartford County.”
Adult education 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 of them free, funded by the state. The best known one is the GED (General Education Development), in which students now have to pass four rigorous online test sessions, lasting up to six and a half hours.
Then there is the Credit Diploma Program, which is 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 on 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.
English as a Second Language classes are offered four days a week, in the mornings and evenings. As of last fall, the classes 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.”
Above and beyond these mandated programs, Adult Ed was the recipient of a Federal Program Enhancement Project Grant for $133,000. “These funds are allowing us to expand our English as a Second Language Program as well as hire a full-time workforce readiness coordinator,” Covino said. “This individual is 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.”
“We have also added a Family Literacy Program in Bristol. This program brings together the Family Resource Center at Greene-Hills School and Bristol Adult Education to offer area parents and their children the opportunity to learn together and increase their literacy skills. It is designed to support parents in becoming their child’s first teacher by developing a stronger literacy background. Bristol plans to offer two Family Literacy cohorts this spring,” he said.
Adult Ed has an innovative Manufacturing Workforce program which offers the specialized training needed for students to get jobs in manufacturing.
For more information, call 860-584-7865 or visit www.bristol.k12.ct.us/adult-education .