Classes Provide Adult Education | News, Sports, Jobs
FAIRMONT– Fairmont Community Education and Recreation has been offering adult basic education classes for several years. The courses cover a wide variety of subjects and basic skills and are aimed at people aged 18 and over.
Chris Eisenmenger is one of three local ABE teachers and has taught classes at Fairmont since approximately 2000. She previously taught ABE at Martin County West CER, but low class numbers prompted her to come to Fairmont. However, she teaches students from all over the region.
“If you’re doing GED specifically, you’ll be working on your reading and language arts, math, social studies, and science.” said Eisenmenger.
She said they have practice tests in each of these areas that most people pass.
Eisenmenger said people may take ABE courses for a variety of reasons. They work on workforce skills, resumes and computer skills. They use the computer lab inside the Southern Minnesota Educational Campus.
“They can learn to read better to read to their children”, said Eisenmenger.
She said even mastering basic math skills is a very useful skill to have.
“I tell my classes, if you’re in the store and you see something that talks about percentages, you better know how to add it all up so nobody takes advantage of you.” said Eisenmenger.
She also teaches at the prison and said she would let anyone come whether they have their GED or not.
“To get a job that’s worth anything, you almost need a GED or your degree,” said Eisenmenger.
While people may take ABE courses for a variety of reasons, GED courses really focus on taking courses in order to complete a GED.
Stephanie Busiahn, Director of Fairmont CER, said: “Fairmont CER is part of a larger consortium for adult basic education and the consortium we are part of is based in Worthington.”
She said currently people have to travel to Mankato to take their proctored GED test, but they are working to be able to offer that here at Fairmont.
“It will ease the burden of people who have to travel to Mankato,” said Busiahn.
As for how long it takes for someone to complete the classes and get their GED, Eisenmenger said it all depends on where they are in their education and in their life. Busiahn said there were people who had left classes for months or years and eventually came back.
Along with Eisenmenger, Sarah Schultze and Katy Gonzalez also teach ABE courses.
“We complement each other well” said Eisenmenger.
Gonzalez teaches a lot of EL students (English language learners). Busiahn pointed out that the three instructors have different personalities, which helps students find an instructor they work well with.
In addition to having different instructors, different schedules are offered for the course. ABE courses are offered on Monday and Thursday evenings from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. They all take place at the SMEC building in Fairmont.
Eisenmenger explained that a teaching license is required to teach ABE courses. She holds a K-6 license as she has previously taught in Fairmont area schools.
“I entered the Title I program with Tony Roesner. I had to walk past the Adult Basic Education office every day and started asking them questions,” said Eisenmenger.
She said Roni Dauer, former director of the Fairmont CER, got her to start teaching ABE classes in the prison.
At one point, Eisenmenger worked two days at the prison, one day with the labor center, and one day with House of Hope.
Eisenemneger herself had ABE students ranging in age from 17 to 80.
“We had the oldest GED student in the state of Minnesota to graduate from our program,” said Eisenmenger.
She shared that the woman had a bucket list that included getting her GED. She then earned her associate degree at Minnesota State University at Mankato.
“She worked hard for it and she got it” said Eisenmenger.
As Busiahn said, the message of CER is “lifelong learning” and the ability for someone to earn their GED no matter what stage in their life they are at shows that it is never too late.
Eisenmenger said his favorite part of teaching ABE classes is watching his students learn. She especially enjoys seeing them pass a test they didn’t think they would pass.
“I tell them they have to believe in themselves. Their confidence has been broken for years. I love seeing all my students succeed,” said Eisenmenger.
If anyone would like to learn more about ABE courses, they can contact the REB office at 507-235-3141.