Administrator’s Corner: The power of community education

Published 7:13 pm Friday, November 22, 2019

Administrator’s Corner by Chris Chalmers

Chris Chalmers


Nov. 14th was National Community Education Day. During this day, Albert Lea Community Education hosted a series of free classes at Brookside Education Center. Classes in crocheting, meditation, finance, bullet journaling, yoga and painting took place. While I have painted many houses inside and out, I haven’t painted on canvas before and took advantage of this experience. While I am proud of my final project, even though my birds on the birch limb might look more like beavers, my takeaway from this class was the fun experience I had with the instructor and other participants. Painting abilities and life experiences varied, but the common interest brought us together — that is community education.

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What are your interests, hobbies, passions? Are you willing to try something new? Thousands of people participate in Community Education programs every year. The Community Education programming periods are fall, winter and spring/summer. During each of these seasons we publish a catalog of opportunities for people of all ages. The next catalog will be in all District 241 mailboxes by mid-December for the winter session that will take place January through April.

The Albert Lea School District 241 Community Education program serves over 24,431 learners of all ages in our school district, and our programming brings in participants from southern Minnesota and north Iowa. All are welcome and we have something for everyone.

Parents are the first and most important teachers in each child’s life. With the guidance of our licensed parent ed teachers, classes are structured for young families and provide a peer network. Many playdates and connections for a lifetime have been made in these programs. Multiple options for preschool children 3 to 5 years old also exist within Community Education. Research continues to prove that early exposure to a high quality preschool experience can provide a lifetime of benefits.

Community Education also provides Adult Learning services for people wishing to complete a GED, improve math or reading skills, English language learning, citizenship classes, digital literacy and even career skills training. All of this programming is free, and so is the child care for participants.

General Enrichment experiences for all ages cover about any topic or interest one could want: fitness, day trips, driving classes, finance and crafts and hobbies. If you have an interest that we are not offering, please contact the Community Education office and let us know.

The Community Boathouse and Rock Climbing Gym at Brookside Education Center are programs unique to our Community Education program. Since the Boathouse opened nine years ago, over 17,000 participants have gone kayaking, canoeing and stand up paddle boarding with Community Ed. The goal for the summer of 2020 is to eclipse the 20,000 participant mark on the water since inception. The Boathouse season will kick off with the International Paddle Film Festival at 6:30 p.m. May 28 at Marion Ross Performing Arts Center.

Gather. Discover. Grow.  Whether inside or out, young or old, there is something for everyone. Enhance the quality of your life with some lifelong learning and community.

P.S., In my painting class I learned that green is my favorite color. I like it even more than blue and yellow combined.

Chris Chalmers is the Albert Lea Community Education director.