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Adult Learning Center officially opens in new building

By Staff | Apr 27, 2018

Tabitha Johnston/Chronicle Representatives from RESA VIII and the Jefferson County School Board, Jefferson County Adult Learning Center instructors and others watch as Mendy Marshall, head of West Virginia’s Office of Adult Education, and Sandra Adkins, WV SPOKES coordinator, cut the ribbon at Tuesday’s ceremony.

The Jefferson County Adult Learning Center held an Open House and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Tuesday afternoon at its new location, 401 South Fairfax Blvd. in Ranson.

The center, which helps train and educate Jefferson County residents for free, will now have room to offer more classes and accept larger class sizes.

The center’s new location was the result of a partnership between the Jefferson County schools and RESA VIII, according to RESA VIII Adult Education Coordinator John Holmes, who spoke during the ribbon cutting ceremony.

“I appreciate everyone coming out today on such a rainy day,” said Holmes. “With this bigger space, there’s potential for more classes and to serve more people.”

Holmes elaborated on the center’s goals during the ceremony.

“Ultimately, the potential for growth here is that we can build a more educated workforce for the Panhandle,” Holmes said. “My dream is to partner with business and industries, to train and help build them attract better applicants.”

Jefferson County Schools Adult Program Coordinator Marty Soltis said the new location will help better serve all members of the community.

“Jefferson County has the most number of English as a Second Language students in the whole state, and this building will help us welcome anyone and everyone to learn,” Soltis. “I’d like to thank the board and community-we couldn’t do it without everyone.”

Jefferson County School Board member Laurie Ogden echoed those sentiments, saying the center provides valuable skills to the community.

“The more we continue to work together, the more people will be able to live here and stay here because they have the skills to do so,” said Ogden during the ceremony. “Everyone here plays a part in our success, so thank you.”

Bryan Ortez, the center’s primary ESL instructor, discussed what makes working at the center special to him.

“I never thought I would have as much fun as I do with teaching here,” said Ortez. “You have a lot of independence as an instructor, the content is guided by student goals and student needs and the students are extremely appreciative that this is free and available to them.”

Ortez said this appreciation was especially apparent when he had back surgery in February. His students kept in contact with him, brought him food and even provided him with transportation. Ortez said he’s not the only person benefiting from this close relationship.

“Developing that level of friendship helps them, too, as they deal with confusing life details and ask me to help them,” Ortez said.

Learning Center volunteer Sylvia Doll said the center allows her to fulfill a lifelong goal of helping others.

“I love to help people. All my life I wanted to keep on studying and increasing in knowledge to help people,” said Doll, who also takes classes at the center to further her education.

“The greatest thing about this place is the teachers. They give their hearts and their lives to help people,” Doll said. “I’m speechless. I can’t tell you the wonders of this place.”