Tacoma Community College is offering Adult Basic Education classes to residents of the Key Peninsula.
The classes are held at the Red Barn Youth Center on the Key Peninsula and are specifically designed for adult students interested in earning their high school diploma, taking the GED test or improving their skills in math, reading or writing.
“These are classes for anyone age 16 and older to do a number of things,” said Janine Mott, continuing education director and executive director of TCC’s Gig Harbor campus. “These classes offer a lot of different options for students.”
The classes are typically small and are designed to be flexible in order to meet the needs and skill levels of individual students, Mott said.
TCC currently offers two classes at the Red Barn: a math class and a read/write class.
Leigh Sutherland, a Gig Harbor native, is the instructor for the read/write class.
“The beauty of our program that we can work with students on an individual basis with whatever they want or whatever they need,” she said. “Getting them confidence in themselves is our goal.”
The read/write class also features a cross-curricular element — such as a biology or political focus — that changes each quarter, Sutherland said.
A lot of different elements are mixed into Sutherland’s class, from more traditional lectures to small group discussions.
“It’s a very nontraditional sort of setting as well as format,” she said.
Kimberly Peterson, the instructor for the math class, said her focus — like Sutherland — is on students gaining confidence and feeling comfortable in class.
“I truly try meeting the students where they’re at,” she said. “We work on a lot of team building so (students) feel comfortable asking questions in class.”
Peterson’s class covers subjects beginning at basic math — such as adding and subtracting — up to pre-algebra.
“From the very basic skills, all the way up to algebra, that’s what we focus on,” she said.
Learning anxieties are something both instructors encounter frequently with their students in these programs.
“(Many) students have a high level of math anxiety,” Peterson said. “(They’re) usually walking in with a bad math experience somewhere in their lives.”
Sutherland also sees anxiety in her read/write class, and works hard to help build confidence in her students.
“(The goal is) gaining back confidence that they can do it, they can write,” she said. “Getting started sometimes is the hard part.”
Keeping the program simple and accessible for students is a goal of both the instructors and the administration. The cost for the program is $25, no matter how many classes a student chooses to attend, and many students qualify for a fee waver, Mott said.
The only additional cost is a $5 class fee per class, and the program even provides a laptop rental to enrolled students for educational purposes. Th classes fulfill requirements under the High School 21+ program in Washington state, and also help to prepare students interested in earning their GED.
Mott recommends that students interested in these classes bring their high school transcripts in for evaluation, since she has found many students who are only a few credits away from earning their diploma.
The next quarter of classes will begin in March, following the college calendar set by TCC, and is actively searching for more students.
“We really are trying to get the word out there,” Sutherland said. “The opportunity is there for students who need it.”
For more information or to enroll in classes, visit the Gig Harbor campus of Tacoma Community College at 3993 Hunt St NW or call (253) 460-2424.