Houlton Rotarians learn ABCs of adult education

Diane Hines, Special to The County
7 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — Houlton Rotarians were apprised of things going on in the realm of adult education during their luncheon meeting on Monday, March 20.
President Matthew Nightingale introduced Rotarian Otis Smith, who previously served as the adult education director before retiring. Smith welcomed guest speaker Joe Fagnant, who took over as the director of the RSU 29/SAD 70 Adult and Community Education program at the Houlton Higher Education Center after Smith’s retirement, as well as assistant director Ken Ervin.

Ervin,  who moved to the area about a year ago with his wife and five children, had been Assistant Dean of Community Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College. Ervin oversees the corrections education at the Aroostook County Jail and works with probation officers to organize this program. He also assists Fagnant with other programs.

Fagnant has taught at SAD 70 and RSU 29 as well as in the Cape Cod area. He gave a slideshow presentation on the “Alphabet Soup” of the sdult education program. The center is best known for its college programs and enrichment courses.

However, there are many more areas at play, including Adult Education and Family Literacy Services; Workfare Innovation and Opportunity Assessment; Comprehensive Adult Education Assessment; High School Completion; and Northern Workforce Development Board.

The NWDB connects many groups in Aroostook County with similar goals. With support from Ervin and assistant Patty Sloat, the center is there to help in any way that it can.

Fagnant is the chief examiner for testing students. He is the fourth director since the adult ed was organized in 1966. Fagnant spoke about all of the services offered such as college transitions and making people work ready in applying for work and this is done by working with NMCC and Region 2. The Qualified Logging Certification Program founded by Smith will again be managed by the retired director. This has been a very successful program. Career Pathway programs can have assistance from Aroostook County Action Program (ACAP) who can help to fund students in need.

Enrichment courses include senior studies in Matter of Balance, Tai Chi, quilting, gardening, health, photography, welding, woodworking, computers and fraud protection. Workforce development courses include CPR/AED, EMT, First Aid, QLP, CNA registry and testing and others.

An advantage to earning a college degree with help from ACE (Adult Community Education) is the cost at $92 per credit hour for coursework through Northern Maine Community College. Numbers of attendees of adult education for the fiscal year 2015-16 show that 4,906 students completed adult education course, 1,242 students completed their high school education, 2,217 students worked on their college credits, 6,632 students were in workforce preparation courses, 2,207 students took English language and civics courses, and 3,320 took adult education basic courses totaling 37,292 participants.

New courses and activities involve the Putnam House education program, Northern Maine LaCrosse Club (Ervin’s effort), Fedcap, a Techhire Grant ($4 million grant), CDL and phlebotomy coursework. For more information Fagnant can be reached at joe.fagnant@rsu29.org or 207-521-3100, extension 5. The website for the center is www.rsu29-70.maineadulted.org and the physical address is 18 Military Street in Houlton.