Non-Profit Education Center Closes, Language Center Changes Hands

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The Athens-based nonprofit Appalachian Progressive Education Center, which over the years has offered language classes and arts and anti-bullying programs, has ceased operation.
However, its Athens Language Center remains open under new management.

The Appalachian Progressive Education Center was formed in 2006, an outgrowth of art and theater programs launched at ARTS/West by Dominika Adamova, who came to Athens from Prague in the Czech Republic. The decision to cease the nonprofit’s operations was made about a month ago and finalized about a week ago, according to board member Kyle Goode.

The nature of the center changed over the years. Todd Neff, who was chairman of the board, said the transformation was largely due to other organizations offering similar programming.

Also, the nonprofit experienced changeovers in board members and directors.

“About a year ago we decided, ‘well, we’ll let the Dairy Barn handle the arts,'” Goode said. “We decided to focus on the language (instruction), but we couldn’t make the numbers work.”

The center offered foreign language classes to both adults and children, and also offered English as a second language.

“I’m not sure that we had enough of a market to support it,” said Neff, who acknowledged that he put some of his own money in the program to try to keep it afloat.

“We did our best to provide language instruction at reasonable rates,” Goode said, although price was a barrier for some local residents. As for international students, programs at Ohio University were more expensive but studying at OU qualified students to get educational visas, he said.

“Ultimately, it didn’t seem viable,” Goode said of the decision to cease operations. He said the organization’s nonprofit designation has legally been put on hold, leaving open the possibility that the Appalachian Progressive Education Center could someday be resurrected.

Amber Duff of Athens has taken over the lease of the Athens Language Center at 8 N. Court St.

“We’re really glad that it is going on in private hands,” Neff said.

Duff said the language center, which is currently for-profit, has become part of The Synapse Gym, which she formed a few months ago. In addition to language instruction, a variety of programs are offered, including classes (currently science and Spanish) for students who are home schooling, computer classes and film classes, she said.

“We hope to become nonprofit, probably in August,” Duff said, adding that the non-profit will be formed with Laura Post, who already offers yoga and educational programming.

Duff said a goal is to offer programs for free for students who are in the free lunch program in Athens City Schools.