A move down the street is going to mean a world of difference for the students at Seven Oaks Adult Learning Centre, and that move is not very far off.
On Feb. 6, students and staff at the centre will begin classes in their brand new digs— a rougly 20,000 square foot building located at 950 Jefferson Ave., just down the road from their former location in Maples Collegiate.
In their new building, which they’re renting from nearby Canad Inns on McPhillips Street, they’ll have six classrooms instead of four, and several offices to house the staff who before had to share a common space.
On top of that, the Seven Oaks School Division’s Wayfinders program will have two large rooms to itself, and the facility will also house an infant/toddler space where parents can leave their children during classes.
Taylor said the centre is ideally located for potential students from the Elwick housing catchment area, which the centre targets.
"We target parents in that area, we get them to recruit their Grade 12s and we supply them with free child care to be able to continue their studies," Taylor said.
"This year, this space will be used for the kids from the adult learning centre and kids from the EAL (English as an Additional Language) program... which is one of the goals of the program. We’re pretty excited about it."
An addition to their programming is the planned installation of 20 computers in every class. Many students lack either computer access or the skills to use it, a situation the centre would like to resolve.
The move to the new building is huge for the centre in more ways than one, but chief among them is visibility. With their own building to hold classes in, and large LED signs to announce their presence to the world, Taylor expects it will be easier to advertise their services than when they were housed within Maples Collegiate.
That increased visibility includes being more able to reach out to other neighbourhoods, including Garden City, in the future. Taylor explained that because of their present location, people often mistakenly believe the adult learning centre is specific to the Maples neighbourhood, when it is really available to all of Seven Oaks’ catchment area.
The centre began operating out of Maples about eight years ago. Taylor has long known about the need for EAL and adult education programming in the neighbourhood, given that the region is a hotbed of new arrivals to Canada.
"We have the highest landed immigrancy here in the province in Seven Oaks, by far," she said.
"Everybody’s coming here. The unfortunate part is there’s no services out here. So we’re trying to become the one-stop shop for newcomers to come to and at least get information and orientation into the city."
Even with the addition of two more classrooms, Taylor said they’re already more or less full up on student registrations.
"We’re almost full as it is, but I think the exposure is better. We’re going to look at some Saturday programming, more opportunities as far as workshopping and presentations go," Taylor said.
While Taylor expressed huge gratitude to Maples Collegiate for hosting them this far, she said being independent of the school will provide loads of new opportunities, and it will create an atmosphere more suited to their adult students.
"Here, adults can act like adults... There won’t adults hanging out with kids who might be only 14. Just a more adult atmosphere," Taylor said.