Free Adult Education Programs Offered at Co-op City PS 160
Not many public schools in New York City can boast that they also offer free adult education programs conveniently at night, but Coop City cooperators should be happily surprised to know that Co-op City's own PS 160 does.
Errol Olton, program director and founder of Equality Charter School's Adult Programming, works hand-in-hand with co-director Caitlyn Franco to oversee the adult education curriculum. The goal of the programming is to offer family, wellness, and career education, as well as financial literacy courses, to those who would otherwise not have the resources or time.
Olton acknowledged in a phone interview with the Co-op City Times
that the 6.1% unemployment rate in the Bronx and the 42% of Bronx students who do not finish high school to receive a diploma are figures that pushed him to getting the programming up and running. "We can't solve the problem, but we can impact it," Olton said.
Still only in its second year, Olton described seeing the program in action as a "full-circle moment" for him because he used to be a student in PS 160's hallways when he was a kid and now has the opportunity to give back to the community.
The family education aspect of the program focuses on childcare that also includes discussions on ways for parents to be better aware of what's going on in their teen's life and be more equipped with the knowledge needed to keep teens safe, especially from online predators. Community issues are also discussed as part of the family education aspect of programming.
The wellness education aspect of programming features classes that promote healthy lifestyle choices. From Zumba classes to healthy cooking classes, the wellness education tries to teach participants how to make the most of the lack of affordable, healthy food options that comes with living in lower income communities.
Career education is aimed at participants looking to finish their GED. Starting in February 2017, in partnership with Bronx Community College, TASC test prep will be given to anyone interested. The TASC exam is the high school equivalency test established in 2014 that replaces the GED as the main path to a New York State High School Equivalency Diploma.
A key feature of programming to note are the basic computer skills classes offered that are aimed for seniors looking to become more familiar with how to use computers. Borough President Ruben Diaz granted the program $35,000 toward this initiative and every dollar is spent supplying the laptops needed to run the basic computer skills classes.
Equally as important are the financial literacy classes offered through the program. The classes cover topics ranging from saving for retirement to resume building and even a business development class, all aimed to teach participants how to be more responsible with their money.
Participants also get to enjoy paid parking passes at the local garage for the duration of the program, as well as refreshments or a dinner, which are every other week, at the conclusion of the classes. Rewards are also given to participants who have perfect attendance at classes.
Olton wants Equality's Adult Programming to continue growing a local presence in Co-op City because he feels that not enough residents know about the amazing resources they have right down the block.
For more information or registration, call 718-459-9597
or visit www.tinyurl.com/strongerfamilies.
By Brandon Ortiz
Co-op City Times is now online