Vermilion River Adult Learning (CLASS) held its AGM on October 26. Created by the late Art Boggs amidst the Vietnam War, the organization is looking forward to celebrating their 50th Anniversary in April 2023.
Gary Walsh shared that the organization had received a $99,609 Community Adult Learning Program (CALP) Grant from Alberta Advanced Education as their main funding for the 2021-2022 year. Their budget for 2022-2023 shows an additional CALP amount of $36,947.
“All CALP’S in Alberta could apply for the expanded grant and we are happy to be a recipient. We have split it into two fiscal years so that the $36,948 next year will carry us until 2024. It can definitely help us with programming, furniture, equipment, etc.,” said CAO Jalene Mauws. “We had another quiet year as expected while our programs were limited, but CLASS did its best to support the learners we had.”
As required, they held three English Language/Literacy (ELL) learning and Digital Literacy learning programs, with seven ELL learners. Some other fun events they mentioned included receiving positive feedback when they participated in The Race of Vermilion (having passed out clues to 80 people). They hosted baby showers for two of their ESL students (1st and 2nd babies) which neither of the women had ever experienced before. CLASS also held a pumpkin carving contest where the staff selected the top three and the public voted online for the winner.
“Thank you to all of our board members, volunteers, partners, contributors, and participants for making lifelong learning successful here in the County of Vermilion River.
Some of the board members have been involved for over 20 years. Alva Andersen’s term as chair was completed, and Gary Walsh was nominated as the new board chair. Being that he was the previous treasurer, Andersen accepted her new role as treasurer. Fred Matthews and Elizabeth Myhovich joined the board, and Leanne Martin joined the nominating committee.
Myhovich began teaching Spanish with CLASS in 2008 and said, “I love learning and I love teaching. For me teaching Spanish is a continuation of my teaching career. It’s amazing to watch the students learn; I love seeing how they light up when they figure out they can actually say something in Spanish. I also understand the struggles of ESL, having come from Mexico. It’s never too late to learn.”
Fred Matthews said he became involved with adult education through his background of work in safety. “As an Indigenous person, I view education as the new buffalo; it’s what is going to help our people survive. Regardless of whom you are or what culture you come from it is self-sustaining (it gives people a hand up instead of a hand out).”
With oil and gas and agriculture being leading industries in northeast Alberta, he sees potential for future expansion into safety education, offering basic skills for citizens entering new employment roles. CLASS is excited about its programs that have expanded into the region (Paradise Valley) and resuming its community outreach/arts programming in the future.