Dr. Julie Francis' EdTalk on "Adult Education."

Stevens Literacy Center Provides Free, Virtual Educational Resources Amid COVID-19

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When is it too late to keep learning? When is it too late for an education to make a profound difference in someone’s life — in someone’s community? In a time of high unemployment numbers due to the COVID-19 crisis, these are not just philosophical questions for many throughout Southeast Ohio.

According to Dr. Julie Barnhart Francis, the Director of the Stevens Literacy Center in The Patton College of Education at Ohio University, it is never too late to pursue education, regardless of one’s circumstances. Through her work at the center and its adult education programming Aspire and Career Bridges, Dr. Francis and her staff have guided countless individuals to obtaining their GED, becoming certified in a variety of professional programs, advancing their technical skills, enrolling in post-secondary education, and, ultimately, finding rewarding employment – entirely for free.

(L to R) Dr. Carrie Ann Verge celebrates the hard-won achievements of these recent Aspire Career Bridges Health Care Program graduates, Shania Hensley, Melanie Saltzman and Megan McQuade. (Patton College of Education)

The Stevens Literacy Center takes its name after Dr. Edward W. Stevens, Jr., a distinguished professor of history and philosophy of education that Dr. Francis served as a graduate assistant throughout her doctoral work.

“(Dr. Stevens) impacted my life in so many ways,” said Dr. Francis. “He was very aware of my passion for working in the field of education — particularly intervention and working with families (…) so he asked me to be a part of some programming that he was developing with adult education. Even today, in everything that we do, I think about his legacy — I think about the work he did. He was scholar who was always looking at the intersection between education and economics and he really thought about how the university could leverage resources to have a positive impact in our community in Southeast Ohio.”

In collaboration with Job and Family Services, the Stevens Literacy Center is able to provide vouchers for adult learners to take their GED free of cost. The center is also currently providing remote comprehensive workforce development programming (Career Bridges) in the sectors of healthcare and manufacturing. The Career Bridges program in healthcare is not only completely free of cost to adult learners, it is also developed on a case-by-case basis, meaning that coursework can be altered to prepare those same adult learners to take their GED if they have not obtained it. Simultaneously, coursework is also tailored to allow for maximum training in the field of healthcare, including hands on job shadowing and the sharpening of basic academic skills.
The first Career Bridges program was crafted in conjunction with the Hocking Valley Community Hospital, with all of the associated coursework contextualized to the specific field of healthcare.

“The adult learners who were enrolled in Career Bridges were not only able to advance their basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics, but we made sure that they were contextualized — meaning that the work they did was so they could advance their academic skills; but it was contextualized.”

By the culmination of the program, adult learners were able to get certified credentials for their training. Although the most recent Career Bridges healthcare program could not take place in person due to the COVID-19 crisis, it was made available entirely online, as has the rest of the free job training available through the Stevens Literacy Center.

“Every day I am amazed by the resiliency of all of the folks we work with,” said Dr. Francis. All of our adult learners are empowered in Southeast Ohio to be whatever they want to be.”

If interested in learning more about opportunities made available through the Stevens Literacy Center, visit the center online at this link or call them at 740-593-0677.