Agencies work to fill void in adult learning options

Monday September 10, 2012

Though the Adult Basic Education Program of the South Berkshire Educational Collaborative has folded, several Berkshire County agencies are working to help support displaced students.

Literacy Network of South Berkshire can offer students about an hour a week of one-on-one support with reading and language skills and GED test preparation with a trained volunteer tutor.

"We want to do everything we can to support the community," said Laura Qualliotine, the new executive director of Literacy Network (LitNet) in Lee.

To do that, she said, the organization is now looking for more volunteers to help the increase of student requests for support. Already, LitNet works with about 116 adult learners.

Qualliotine said that since LitNet is not credentialed to award GEDs, she is also referring displaced South County students to the Adult Learning Center in Pittsfield.

Over the summer, the center relocated to 141 North St., close to the city's Intermodal Transportation Center.

"It might be a little easier for people to get there because of the bus station," said Adult Learning Center Executive Director Vinnie Szymanski.

Szymanski said he welcomes any students from the Great Barrington area to enroll, but has only heard from a few displaced adult learners so far.

Both the Adult Learning Cen ter and the Northern Berkshire Adult Education Program at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts can award GEDs to any student who meets the criteria to enroll and successfully completes the program.

In addition, Project Link at Berkshire Community College will continue to work with students referred to the program. Project Link helps students in Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs transition into courses at BCC.

Project Link Coordinator Joe Hennessey said that at the directive of the state Depart ment of Elementary and Secondary Education, the program is bringing more career-readiness aspects into its services.

As of fiscal 2013, the state will begin to require ABE students to have an individualized education and career plan or family action plan.

To reach Jenn Smith:,
or (413) 496-6239
On Twitter: @JennSmith_Ink

How to help

Literacy Network of South Berkshire will host volunteer training sessions on Oct. 23 and again on Oct. 25. Both sessions are from 5 to 7:30 p.m., and will be held at the Lee Library, 100 Main St., Lee. No teaching or foreign language experience is required. To register, visit or call (413) 243-0471 or email


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