Staff at the Stettler Learning Centre have been ‘hitting the road’ locally to further spread the word about what the Centre is all about.
“The goal of the ‘Roadshow’ is to connect with the Stettler and area businesses, non-profits, government agencies, municipalities, educational institutions, the health care/medical field and really, anyone who will listen to us,” explained Erin Wilkie, the Centre’s manager.
“The purpose is to raise awareness about the services and programs that SLC has to offer. What we want to see come out of this is an increased awareness that the Stettler and area residents know what the SLC is, where we are, what we do, and how we can assist them with adult learning and employment needs or requests.”
Wilkie said she has connected with many folks who aren’t aware of what the Centre fully offers.
“Some have never heard of it, some have heard of it but are unsure of what ‘it’ actually is or what we do,” she said. “I myself had no idea the depth of the services and programs available at the Centre until I started working here.
“My knowledge of the Centre was limited to the community program offerings through the brochure that was mailed out twice a year, that they were connected with Red Deer College and that they provided family literacy programs. What a wonderful eye-opener it was for me!”
Wilkie added that since coming on board in January of 2020, it has been her goal to increasingly expose the Centre to the community.
“I thought the best way to expose the SLC was as simple as getting out into the community meeting with people but with restrictions and me being so new to SLC myself, I knew it would be challenging and that I also couldn’t do it on my own.
“I approached Peggy (Vockeroth) who has worked at the SLC for years and knows the Centre inside out, upside down and all around and through informal conversations to brainstorm how we were going to do ‘this’ came the idea of a Roadshow concept,” she said.
“The Peg & Erin Roadshow name stuck. I do like it, and we’ve literally hit the road – in person and virtually – meeting with the many wonderful community partners we have in the Town and County of Stettler,” she said.
“It has been very enjoyable meeting with many people, and Peggy and I are learning a lot along the way as well. One of the biggest areas of awareness I have noticed is that there is a lack of knowledge of what adult foundational learning is, who foundational learners are, and how the SLC can help plan their educational journey right through to post-secondary.”
Wilkie added that what the team wants the public to know is that they can support any adults who are determined to improve their education or employment skills.
“We call it the ‘laddering’ process. A perfect example we use to explain this laddering is the growth of an individual who came to SLC to upgrade his education. He started at SLC with some academic advising and assessments where it was determined he had about a Grade six knowledge of math and reading. He started a course called Essential Skills to improve those skills, and once he improved enough, he was able to move on to a program called New Futures – a free, week-long program that helps people with employment skills and resume development.
“He eventually moved into the GED prep course which led him to writing the GED exams and obtaining his General Equivalency Diploma. He is now enrolled in post-secondary! This journey took a lot of time, a lot of support and a lot of determination but because he was determined to improve his quality of life, he succeeded.
“Many adult foundational learners have had a negative experience with education for whatever reason. We want to get the word out that the SLC can meet them where they are at and ‘plant’ them for success.
“We can help reduce barriers that may be in their way of experiencing success – financial, transportation, child care, access to technology and a safe and caring place to learn,” she said. “We also want to get the word out that SLC offers support to people who want to further their post-secondary education and that we can offer continuing education courses to the public such as employment skills and mental health training.”
Wilkie noted that Stettler is very fortunate to be one of four Campus Alberta Sites in Alberta – which is SLC’s partnership with Olds and Red Deer College.
“Our CAC student advisor has a wealth of knowledge in helping people get started on their post-secondary journey, specifically for the HCA (health care aide) and PN (practical nurse) programs that are offered right here in Stettler.”
In the meantime, SLC also offers community programming that varies year to year – courses such as Spanish for Travellers, Get Your Learner’s License, Body Language, Wills and Estates, Drone Training, etc.
“We are currently in the process of planning 2021-2022 courses and are excited about some new family literacy ideas we hope to launch.”
Wilkie also said that as she was working out in the field the night before the Roadshow with Stettler Town council, it hit her that instead of talking specifically about the programming they offer, she would like to talk about how SLC can help with the economic impact of the community.
“I know very little about economics but had a gut feeling that by talking with the experts at the Town of Stettler, they might see where I was coming from,” she said. “In very plain language, education is empowering and my belief is that everyone needs to feel empowered.
“Many adults don’t see themselves as learners, and don’t have the confidence to call our office to ask for help and I get it. There are so many stigmas and everyone has pride – it’s not easy to admit you may have barriers or learning challenges.
“And it was this thought out in the field that led me to thinking of economics and the housing situation in Stettler, random but yet connected. To have thriving communities, we need educated individuals.”
Wilkie added that educated individuals can help grow the economy, and by growing the economy residents can better support those who need a hand up, not a handout, to improve their quality of life.
“This can start with education which leads to employment which leads to vibrant communities, which is really all about economics.”