The new digs for Stettler Learning Centre are continuing to take shape as renovations continue. Staff recently relocated to the former Vision Credit Union building this month – and they are aiming for a grand 0pening celebration this fall.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there have been some changes to how educational courses have been delivered, and even at this point, it’s not clear how things will exactly resume this fall, said Erin Wilkie, the Learning Centre’s manager.
“Right now, we are really going to be digging into the programming, which normally we start planning back in April,” she explained. “Now, we have to find ways to program ‘virtually’.
“It’s about finding the people who are comfortable offering programs online. It can also present a challenge if some people don’t have to technology to learn that way.”
But it’s all about making the most in what has of course been an unprecedented and challenging time.
In the meantime, the tutors have been keeping busy connecting with students, and Wilkie said it’s been terrific to see some of the innovative ways they’ve been sharing lessons and such. Tapping into all kinds of platforms has been a key part of it.
For staff, getting used to meeting more online has been something of a plus, too.
“There are all these things we’ve never heard of,” she said of the variety of platforms. “But they help meet that need – at least you can still communicate and get together and talk things through.”
Looking ahead, there is much to plan.
“We are going to try and see what we can get up and going,” she said, adding that at this point, how things are going to look this fall remain largely unknown for almost all educational institutions.
But amidst the uncertainly, one highlight for Learning Centre staff has been the move to a new, much more accessible location in the downtown area.
“For us, because we had the renovation – all of our energy went into that,” she said, adding that the work involved with that provided a kind of purpose in such an uncertain time.
“We are all excited. The board was also so supportive of us through it all and that was such a blessing.”
For Wilkie, who started with the Learning Centre this past January, the relatively new post has been a joy.
“There are many aspects of the job I love but the office staff is hands down the best part of the job. Angela, Deirdre, Laura, Peggy and Ivy are simply amazing. All of them are knowledgeable, flexible, resilient, real go-getters and so very kind.
“There are many laughs when we are together! I could not learn this position without their support, encouragement and patience with all my questions! I am very appreciative they have welcomed me with open arms.”
Wilkie said the other part of the work she appreciates is the support of the Stettler and District Community Adult Learning Council board members.
“This dedicated group of individuals, many who I am still getting to know, have also been incredibly supportive of me and my learning curve,” she said. “Stettler Learning Centre and Campus Alberta Central wouldn’t be around to serve the community if it wasn’t for these people.
“Bonnie and Kathy with Campus Alberta Central are a big part of the Stettler Learning Centre team too who have also been of great help to me. I am so thankful to be a part of this dynamic team.”
As to what keeps her passionate about the world of learning, Wilkie pointed out that the breaking down of stigmas continues to fuel her motivation to break new ground.
”I have a real soft spot for academic underdogs and I feel this comes from feeling like I was one during my school days – until I felt brave enough to apply for college three years out of high school,” she explained.
”High grades are not the sole indicator of academic success, yet so many people feel that is a fact, not a myth. I want people to know that no matter what their age, what their background in school was, what their family history is, what their mental health status is, what their ethnicity is – you name it – everyone can learn and grow and overcome barriers.
“At Stettler Learning Centre, we have the tools for anyone to succeed if they are willing to put in the effort; you will be hard-pressed to find a more supportive, caring and safe space to help you get to where you want to go than here,” she added.
“This is something I wasn’t aware that SLC offered until I started working here. It’s very rewarding helping people and seeing them be proud of themselves.”
Check out www.stettlerlearning.com.