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Adult learners supported on their path to education

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A woman stands to do the pledge of the allegiance in her blue gap and gown. She's smiling and surrounded by classmates.Returning to the classroom as an adult can be intimidating, but there is support available to make the transition back to school smoother. Gilbert Public Schools offers the Adult Learning Program for older students in our community, who are looking to once again pursue their education. The program includes support with GED prep as well as classes to improve English Language Proficiency. 

“Most of our students are adults, who are usually carrying a job or other responsibilities, so we want to make sure they have options that are available to them," said Delia Flores, the Adult Education Coordinator for Gilbert Public Schools. 

Adult learners have the option of taking in-person classes in the mornings or evenings. The flexibility helps them balance work and home life with their schooling. A majority of the students are from the Gilbert community, but there are some enrolled in the program who travel from out of town. 

“We will take anyone who applies, but if there is a program that appears to be a better fit, then we will try to refer them when we can,” Flores said.

The Adult Learning Program is all about setting students up for success. Class sizes are small, allowing for more interaction between students and teachers. All of the class instructors are certified. Students also have access to a college and career navigator, who assists them with goal-planning beyond the classroom. Community partners like Arizona@Work provide resources to students during their job search. Students also have the opportunity to do Integrated Education and Training.

“Along with whatever instruction they are getting in the classroom, they are able to earn an industry-recognized credential before they graduate,” Flores said.

The Adult Learning Program is in place to help adult students overcome the obstacles that prevented them from getting their diploma. Many adult learners who’ve enrolled in the program left school early or aged out before getting enough high school credits. Some had unexpected life circumstances, or had to work in order to provide for their families. 

“They all come with a different barrier,” Flores said.

When students enroll in classes through the Adult Learning Program, they meet with their teachers to develop an individualized learning plan. Graduates in their blue cap and gowns line up in front of the stage at the graduation ceremony.Students are tested when they begin the program to help identify their specific educational needs. 

“The teachers will do some whole group instruction, if it applies to all students, and then students are given time to do independent practice and work,” Flores said.

New students are constantly being added to the program whenever a new slot opens up. Roughly 285 students were enrolled in the last program year. About 36 of them participated in the graduation ceremony, which featured music from the Highland High School choir as well as an appearance by the Gilbert High School Color Guard and a speech by GPS Superintendent Dr. Shane McCord. 

“It was really, really nice, because we got to see different parts of the district contribute and support the students,” Flores said.

In order to register for Adult Learning classes, students must be at least 16 years old and withdrawn from high school. Minors need to register with a parent or legal guardian. You must be lawfully in the U.S. and be able to provide a valid photo ID. Regular attendance is necessary to ensure student success. 

For those interested in learning more about spring classes that start in January, visit the Adult Education section of the district’s website.

Written by Kailey Latham