The Kilgore College Adult Education and Literacy program has a wide range of resources to offer to any adult looking to further their education.
Interim Director Charmyn Tumey said that while the program does offer what you expect from your traditional AEL, they also offer a wide range of other resources, as well as connections through Kilgore College, that can assist any adult in furthering their educational goals.
“When a student comes in we always ask ‘What do you want to do at the end of this?’ ‘Where do you want to be?’ and that gives us an idea about where to start with them,” said Betsy Rodriguez.
The program is entirely free to utilize, with no requirements on income or location. The AEL program is housed at the Kilgore College Longview Campus, with satellite programs servicing Gregg, Rusk and Upshur counties.
Along with courses in high school equivalency testing, or GED testing, and English as a second language tutoring, the program offers literacy, basic skills and exam preparation tutoring and much more.
“It’s not just academics, we really work to make sure that our students are prepared to go to school and to do the work to succeed,” Tumey said.
Programs in integrated education and training, which offers students the ability to learn basic skills as well as industry specific technical skills and work force training are also offered through the program.
Additionally, an intensive college readiness program is offered through AEL, which was created specifically to assist nontraditional students who have never attended college to prepare them for once again attending school and participating in a classroom setting.
Programs through Kilgore College AEL can be accessed through distance learning as well as in person assistance, with technology made accessible to students who need it, and all materials for courses provided.
“We try to prevent any type of barrier between our students and their goals,” Tumey said. “All they have to do is be willing to be there.”
She said that the program has been running for around 35 years, and was originally started by the former director Bobbie McGee-Benson.
“What they say is that it all started with her and one student,” Rodriguez said. “But she saw the need in the community was there.”
The program now serves anywhere between eight to 1,000 students in a year, with more interest being shown to the program by community members since the COVID-19 pandemic according to Rodriquez.
Their services also don’t stop when their students graduate from the program, according to Tumey, who said that they often have graduates come back for help in other areas; help they are always willing to supply.
“We want to be that support for them, even when they have moved on, so that we can continue to be supportive in their lives as they continue to reach those goals,” she said.
Along with the immense volume of programs and resources available to interested community members, the program also offers a National Honors Society ceremony each year to honor participants in the program that are signaled out for excellence.
Additionally, the AEL hosts a traditional graduation each year with their students, celebrating their accomplishments as a group.
“It is exactly the same as a traditional graduation ceremony, we have caps and gowns and we have a speaker each year,” Tumey said. “It’s really important to us to celebrate the accomplishments of our students, because they are extraordinary.”
For more information on the program, or to keep up with the latest information on what they have to offer, community members can visit the organizations social media accounts @KilgoreAEL on Facebook and on their website at www.kilgore.edu/academics/adult-education-and-literacy.