NEWPORT NEWS — The Peninsula Regional Education Program provides adult learning classes and other workforce development courses across the Peninsula.
The classes range from CNA and HVAC instruction to ESL and GED classes and some classes, specifically the GED classes, are offered in the evening and even daylight hours ––– for free.
“Our vision is for every student on the Peninsula to be prepared with the knowledge, skills, and credentials to excel in the 21st century economy,” according to the organization’s Facebook page.
Jessica Morris, adult education student support specialist at Discovery STEM Academy, helps with intake and registration for adult learning programs.
She said the classes are small and students can get one on one learning.
“Really the only requirement they need [is] to be over 18 and they can’t still be in high school,” Morris said. “If they are under 18, they need some sort of documentation that they have been released from compulsory attendance.”
“For some people, it might be because of the hours of the job and they might have kids,” she said regarding the program times, which can be anywhere from 9 a.m. to noon and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Rachel Ambrose, regional program manager for adult education, said the organization has always had morning classes and recently added more afternoon classes in partnership with the Community Neighborhood Initiative.
By offering the GED classes during the day, it eliminates the need to find childcare, since the children are in school, and upon graduation, students can transition to taking workforce training classes at Thomas Nelson Community College, Ambrose said.
At Discovery STEM Academy, the GED classes are offered from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
So why else are theses GED classes offered during the day?
Ambrose said this particular area of Newport News has high poverty and unemployment as well as high barrier to access the classes.
When the city was applying for the $30 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant, Ambrose said multiple community partners, including the Peninsula Regional Education Program, supported the initiative by offering services.
The education program would provide GED classes and another organization, Hampton Roads Community Action Program, would have shuttle service providing a connection to the class locations.