GatewaySCV provides learning opportunities to adult learners

Certified medical assistant student Victoria Howard tests the blood pressure of high school diploma instructor Scott Davidson at Golden Oak Adult School on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

Five years ago, with the passage of Assembly Bill 86, California community colleges and school districts began working together to form regional groups and develop programs to better serve the needs of adults.

A year later in 2014, the William S. Hart Union High School District and College of the Canyons joined together to form the adult education consortium called GatewaySCV.

Together, the community college’s continuing education/noncredit programs and the district’s Golden Oak Adult School provide adult learners with access to courses leading to ongoing learning opportunities, like high school diploma and GED preparation courses, and career preparation and training in fields like health care and hospitality.

“Students are able to transition from one institution to another so it’s not as scary,” said GatewaySCV Coordinator Kim Haglund, who is also an English adjunct and GED instructor at COC. “They network with new people and they form their own groups and cohorts.”

Many students begin their learning at Golden Oak Adult School or at College of the Canyons, where they learn basic skills, gain English proficiency, earn a high school diploma and become U.S. citizens.

“Students start with ESL (English as a Second Language) then move on to Basic Skills where they learn basic math and English skills that prepare them for the high school diploma track or high school equivalency,” Golden Oak Adult School Principal Jodie Hoffman told The Signal in March. “And then we prepare them for postsecondary through COC or through our three CTE (Career Technical Education) programs.”

Students have the same options at COC where they can earn their GED or take more advanced classes in ESL.

“We’ll have pathways. Say student finishes first and second ESL classes, they can transfer to COC and complete level three and four,” Haglund said. “It’s amazing the stories that you hear from students… For some it helps them get a new job or increased wages, or to improve their literacy.”

These pathways also apply to the GatewaySCV’s Career Technical Education programs, which provide students with affordable, high-quality career training that prepare them to be successful in obtaining high-wage, in-demand jobs.

These CTE programs include courses to become certified phlebotomy assistants, certified pharmacy technicians, certified medical assistants, early childhood education teachers and hospitality leaders.

“They have a partnership at Golden Oak for people just deciding what career they want. One of those is the hospitality,” Haglund said. “We’re building a pathway so when someone completes a course there (at Golden Oak), there is a degree at COC or certificate they can earn.”

The same is true for the early childhood education program that offers students an associate’s degree through courses at COC.

The consortium also works together to host joint professional developments and train noncredit faculty on the best practices to serve and help adult learners.

“At the end of April we’ll have a joint professional development event for non-credit faculty at the college meeting with the faculty at Golden Oak adult school,” Haglund said. “It will be about helping learners struggling to advance and how to get them into the next class, and strategies for working with adult learners.”

Currently, GatewaySCV is tracking its data to see how many adult learners it successfully served in the Santa Clarita Valley and moved through the entire consortium.

“We’re gathering up all our data not just as individual entities, but as a consortium to see how many students go through the whole process,” Haglund said. “Anecdotally, we know they have.”

The consortium is also hoping to open to two off-site locations to serve students in the non-credit CTE and ESL courses at both COC and Golden Oak.

“The college is impacted and we need more space,” Haglund said. “Both locations are on good bus routes so hopefully those with transportation issues will still be able to come… We are expanding our resources and our space.”

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