Since the 1980s, the Dickinson Adult Learning Center has been providing English second language classes for those who want to improve their reading, writing and speaking skills. The DALC also provides preparation and testing for the GED. On weekends, the DALC offers computer classes for topics such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and basic computer skills, Region 8 Director Beth Hurt said.
Not only is the DALC a certified Pearson Vue Test Center for the purpose of the GED, but educators also can administer hundreds of tests for different certifications such as EMT and CompTIA (Computer Technology Industry Association). Students who are enrolled in online college or distance education can also come to the DALC for exam proctoring, Hurt added.
“I never want anybody to feel self-conscious about what they do or do not know. Everybody comes in with a different level of education, and it’s fine,” Hurt said. “There’s nothing to ever be ashamed of; we’re here to help and we want to give them what they need.”
Region 8 Director Beth Hurt, of the Dickinson Adult Learning Center, smiles at her desk Thursday, April 1, 2021. Hurt has been with the DALC for more than nine years. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)
Hurt, who’s been at the DALC for nine years, first started as a test administrator and computer instructor, then made her way into the role of a director soon after. With two English instructors, one part-time computer teacher and one GED instructor, Hurt said the DALC prides itself on quality education.
“I think that our teachers are so great and they establish such a good connection with their students. So the students feel comfortable and they trust their teachers and I think that’s the most important thing. I think they foster that relationship with their students, and that, in turn, encourages the students to continue coming back,” Hurt noted.
Currently, the DALC has approximately 78 students enrolled for both GED and English programs. The maximum class size is 12 students. The focus of the DALC is to have more of a one-on-one connection with students so they learn more efficiently, Hurt remarked.
“I think people who want to pick up where they left off in their education journey, or people who want to upgrade their skills (come here). Also, like I mentioned, we have people who need to work on reading, speaking writing or their English, so those are kind of the main reasons people come here,” Hurt said.
When students first come to the DALC, they take a placement test so instructors know which classes they should be in. English classes are typically held in the morning, and the GED classes are a little more flexible. These are designed to serve adults, who have jobs, families and other priorities, Hurt said.
“We also have a lot of preparation that they can do using our online learning software. So we can set them up with user accounts that they can, they can access from home or on a mobile device, on the weekends, evenings, whatever is convenient for them. If they’re not able to physically come in and work with the teacher very often, then that’s a good option,” Hurt said.
Classes at the DALC are free with the exception of the GED tests. However, the Bank of North Dakota has a scholarship that students can apply for to help pay for those GED tests.
The DALC features open enrollment, so people can start at any time and finish at their own pace. For some students, it takes only a couple of weeks to finish the courses and take their GED, while others take years to complete their courses.
Before becoming a GED teacher, Paula Loegering was an elementary school teacher. Now, for nearly 27 years, Loegering said she prefers working with adults.
“I think it’s the informality and the fact that they don’t have to be here at a set time; they can come and go pretty much on their schedule, and then we just adjust to fit what they need,” Loegering said. “They like the one-to-one, which is pretty much how we do it when they show up and work with that person. And when they leave, then the next one comes along and I work with that person. Because they’re all doing different things at different times at different paces, different levels, so there’s a lot of variety.”
GED teacher Paula Loegering sits at her desk at the Dickinson Adult Learning Center Thursday, April 1, 2021. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)
Loegering teaches a variety of students from across the globe. Ages vary from 16 to even an 82-year-old student at one time, Loegering noted.
Moving forward, Hurt said she would like to see more people come and utilize all of the resources the DALC has, not just new incomers from all over the world, but for anyone who wants to continue their education.
“I’d like to reach more people in the community who need our services. I really want to make sure that people know that we’re here and they know what we offer,” Hurt said, adding, “My primary goal also is to make sure that people understand it’s never too late to continue their education. Whether it’s been a year or 20 years, since they were last in school, it’s fine. They can come here, we’ll pick up where they left off.”
For those interested in enrolling in classes or utilizing the DALC’s other services, call 701-456-0008 or visit dickinsonalc.com.
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