A new building for Franklin County Adult Education. Submitted photo

The new building needs a new sign. Submitted photo

FARMINGTON — The staff at Franklin County Adult Education (FCAE) have a lot to be thankful for this season. The school year started off with new Director Nancy Allen who happily took on the challenge of working with an unfamiliar staff and larger territory, but also faced some obstacles that the pandemic quickly shed light on. Even before the pandemic the limited space made it difficult for the many offerings of FCAE to work in conjunction with each other as seamlessly as institutions with more space allow. With offerings for high school student support, advising, testing, the Literacy Volunteers program as well as college and career assistance, the location had reached its limit in effectiveness and began to be more of a struggle. When the pandemic hit, what was once a hassle became a daily obstacle with a constant need for updated analysis of logistical time and physical space distancing orchestration. Fortunately, thanks to the Cares Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act), grant money will allow for a new and improved modular unit that will alleviate the current building’s lack of ventilation. Starting as early as this January, the classes will be taking place in the main Mt. Blue campus building, so that the construction can get underway as soon as possible.

It is often said that one of the three most stressful situations in life is moving, but Allen has said the process is going much better than expected, “I am so thankful for all of the work everyone has done to make this a reality! Teachers have been amazing at cleaning, sorting, and packing all sorts of material. Support staff has ordered equipment and taken classes to help make distance learning a reality. Others have filled in to make sure our students didn’t miss a beat. Not to mention the technical and maintenance crews that have stepped up to make everything come together!”

Adult Community Education Coordinator Janice Dodge agreed. “I am very thankful and excited for all of our teachers and students! The building is used extensively for evening enrichment classes and now our community members will feel safe and enjoy a pleasant learning experience. While thankful for our present community participation and support, I hope the new facility will be a motivator for even more involvement in our education and enrichment program.”

In trying times it is difficult to look with optimism into the future but the staff is united in believing this period of struggle will lead to a lot of positive outcomes. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil of Rangeley Adult Education, part of Franklin County Adult Ed., believes that for some this is proving a great time to take positive steps. “I think people have been doing a lot of soul searching and they find themselves at a crossroads. ‘What steps can I take right now that will impact my future?’ For example, the need for a job that includes health insurance can be a real motivator for getting their certification or returning to college. Some people have never thought they had the time to get a degree or finally get their high school diploma, but now with virtual asynchronous classes, everyone can find the time and just get it done. That’s why I named the Rangeley Adult Education page on Facebook the Rangeley Bucket List. I think we all have a list. We just need to chip away at it, and before you know it, you’re done!”

Although there has been a decrease in overall student attendance, Kristie Backus, Testing/Data Coordinator has still seen strong efforts made, calling them, “Courageous students who despite this pandemic are persistent in their educational goals.”

Adult Education Coordinator, Greta Espeaignnette, of MSAD 58 echoed the sentiment of the rest of the FCAE staff sharing this statement for Thanksgiving, “I am grateful for caring supportive coworkers and for courageous students who despite this pandemic are persistent in their educational goals.”

With the positive outlook of the staff at FCAE there are sure to be new opportunities once the new building is complete. For more information about Franklin County Adult Education and any of their ongoing programs, you may call 207 778-3460 or visit their website https://rsd9.maineadulted.org.

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