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Adult Education programs ‘a stepping stone’ to help older students on their learning journey

adulted-iStock-1347156089.jpgThe Invergarry Adult Education Centre and Queen Elizabeth Continuing Education offer numerous courses and programs for adults seeking to complete their high school education. (Image via iStock)

School isn’t just for children – students of all ages are part of Surrey Schools, and the district is proud to offer numerous Adult Education programs to help older learners with the first steps towards their goals and aspirations.

The Invergarry Adult Education Centre and Queen Elizabeth Continuing Education (QECE) provide adult students and older teens with the opportunity to take Grade 11 and 12 courses outside of a traditional school setting, both in the daytime and in the evening, with other adult peers. Students into their 70s attend adult education for a variety of reasons, ranging from language support to scheduling flexibility to simply wanting to finally receive their high school diploma.

“We are the final transition, and that’s huge,” said QECE principal Derek Strauss. “This is the transition from high school into the world, and sometimes they graduate when they’re 20, 30 or 40.”

“It’s very important for our adults to have this service because it’s life-changing for most, if not all of them,” said Invergarry principal Tara Holt. “We have so many different people here for so many different reasons, but often the common denominator is that something’s not working in their life and they want to fix it, and that’s why they come through our doors. That makes it a really awesome work environment and place to be.”

Invergarry offers a blend of academic Grade 11 and 12 courses as well as the Foundations of Literacy and Numeracy program, intended to fill in gaps in prior learning for adult learners. The school also hosts Invergarry Connect, a program designed to give a soft landing to students recommended by Education Services and help them integrate into school and engage with curriculum.

QECE also offers academic courses like Chemistry, English, Math and Physics in the mid-afternoon and evening, along with unique courses such as culinary arts and automotive technology, and programs like YELL (Young Entrepreneur Leadership Launchpad), Emergency Medical Responder 12 A&B, wood carving for Indigenous youth and woodworking in partnership with Surrey Pretrial.

Adult Education remains in demand, with nearly 2,600 students registered this year at Invergarry, and an additional 1,600 in the past year at QECE. The schools also host Summer Learning, with 1,050 adult students in class this month and next month, and another 125 in the pretrial program.

“Last year, we registered students from over 80 different countries,” said Holt. “There’s a huge range of diversity here and you see it every day.”

While it’s called Adult Education, approximately half of the population is 16 to 18-year-old students in Grade 11 and 12 who attend due to scheduling conflicts or course unavailability at their school.

“Because of the complexity of their timetable, they may not be able to get a course they need in the right location,” said Strauss. “That’s where we step in, we can offer that course here with a teacher and the same curriculum.”

Other students include late-arriving immigrants in need of the language program, students who did not find success in mainstream learning centres, and students in their 40s and up, returning after many years to finish their high school diploma.

With such a variety of reasons to attend, Strauss and Holt said they value the opportunity to help so many students from different walks of life get where they want to go.

“Everyone has a story,” said Strauss. “Our graduations are a spiritual experience – we see something that the day schools don’t get to see that is very precious and uplifting.

“When our adults graduate and transition out, they already know where they’re going, we’re a stepping stone for them to get to there. We take no offense to that, we’re very energized by being able to help them along their journey.”

For more information, visit our Adult Education, Invergarry Adult Education Centre and Queen Elizabeth Continuing Education pages.

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