Celebrating Adult Learners in Nova Scotia
On Saturday June 19, 2010 the inaugural Provincial Learner Ceremony was held in Wolfville to recognize the individual achievement of adult learners in community learning organizations. The event was organized under the auspices of the Association of Nova Scotia Community Learning Organizations (ANSCLO), and was hosted by the Valley Community Learning Association (VCLA).
Financial support for the event was provided by the Skills and Learning Branch of the Department of Labour and Workforce Development, the Department of Community Services, the Department of Economic and Rural Development, Literacy Nova Scotia and Founders Insurance. Margaret MacDonald, Deputy Minister, Department of Labour and Workforce Development, and Ramona Jennex, MLA for Kings South, and Minister of Service Nova Scotia, Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, Minister of Emergency Management and Minister of Immigration represented government and remained on stage shaking hands with learners for the entire event.
Board members, instructors, tutors, learners and supporters of the Valley Community Learning Association contributed countless volunteer hours to help provide meals for the some 260 attendees from all over the province. Much of the food was donated by local businesses. It truly was a community event.
Learner Celebration Mural
109 Learners Recognized at Provincial Learner Celebration
Each of the 31 community learning organizations in the province was given the opportunity to nominate five learners to come to the ceremony. Each network had complete say over deciding whom they would nominate, but the organizers did establish some guidelines to help them with their deliberations, and based them on ones established by the Halifax Community Learning Network. They included such things as:
Being a role model and demonstrating persistence and determination like Curtis Hunter of the Bedford-Sackville Learning Network, who while running a successful painting business has continued keep up on his reading assignments and is always willing to take extra work home to supplement his progress in the classroom.
Going beyond original study goals to develop a commitment and love of learning for the long-term like Jack McNabb of the Colchester Adult Learning Association, who is a poet, an archaeological sleuth, a historian, a researcher, and a a musician.
Being a learner who not only shows a commitment to personal learning, but is supportive of others, as they work towards achieving their goals, a learner who introduces new learners to the network and provides encouragement to newcomers like Susan McGrath of the Richmond County Learning Network who has become a strong advocate for literacy, sitting first on the RCLN Board of Directors as the Adult Learner Representative and now as the representative for her Municipal district.
Being a learner who is a network supporter, a learner who takes the opportunity to give back to the network by helping out in any number of ways like Rita Whynot of the Queens Learning Network who after completing her GED has become a valuable tutor as well as a keen organizer of fundraising events for the students at our network, and decided to join our Board of Directors beginning in the fall.
And finally, personal achievement, a learner who has displayed personal growth and increased self-confidence to overcome challenges, while studying with the Network, like any one of the 109 learners who were honoured at the Provincial Learner Celebration.
A keepsake book, which contains information on all of the nominees at the event was published and can be viewed here.
There are 31 community learning organizations across Nova Scotia offering class-based and one-on-one instruction as part of the Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning (NSSAL). Approximately 2000 Nova Scotians enrol every year to further their education with community learning organizations. Community learning organizations offer the foundation of the Adult Learning Program (ALP), teaching Levels 1 and 2, and in eight communities, Level 3. Completion of Level 4 leads to the Nova Scotia High School Diploma for Adults.
But not all learners will complete a high school diploma. The ALP is a responsive curriculum that adapts to a range of outcomes. Student successes include such things as completion of ALP Level 2 then attending the Commercial Safety College in Truro and earning a class I trucking license; completion of upgrading to get a drivers license or an air brake license; getting help to complete exams as part of the Apprenticeship Program; or passing the GED tests leading to a job, a promotion at work, or trades training at NSCC.
Not all measures of success are employment-related. Adults taking part in NSSAL programs improve their literacy skills so they can read with a child and grandchild and help with homework; take a more active role at their church; or improved their English as a second language skills so they can play a more meaningful role in their communities. These are the types of outcomes that often go unrecognized, and were the focus of the 2010 Provincial Learner Celebration.