Aspire program motivates adults to continue their education and improve job skill
Mansfield City Schools Adult Education has been a vital part of the community since the early 1960’s, with various changes and improvements throughout the years to adhere to progress in education and student’s distinct needs. With continued support from Mansfield City Schools, the program has been able to grow and thrive.
Beginning in August of 2020, Andrea Karpiak-Feasel took over as the Coordinator of Mansfield City Schools Adult Education Aspire Program. From 2014-2016, she was a GED instructor, holding the record for the number of GED graduates in the state of Ohio.
“Aspire is free, adult basic literacy education, which can lead to high school equivalency completion or entering into post secondary education. We teach job skills, acquiring the skills that are needed to advance at work. In a nutshell, it really encompasses those three different categories,” Administrative Assistant, Charlene McPeek said, who has been with the program for nine years.
Each individual who comes into the Aspire program has a different story and reason as to why they are there, so a big part of the educator's job is making them feel comfortable and adhering to their unique circumstances, schedules and needs.
“It’s important to develop relationships with these people and get to know them so you can encourage them in the way they need,” McPeek said.
“At our W. 5th St. site, we’re right in the heart of where the issues lie, where barriers come from. Being right in the center of Mansfield is so important because of the barriers of our adults who don’t have transportation or who endure homelessness,” Karpiak-Feasal said.
Last fiscal year, with staff members through Spherion, Aspire has developed their first Integrated Educational Training (IET) in Customer Service & Sales. This has helped students in basic math and reading, while also teaching leadership and customer service skills.
Currently, Mansfield Adult Education Aspire and Madison Adult Career Center (MACC) developed their Customer Office Support Technology (COST) program IET. Aspire begins with Customer Service and Sales along with additional workplace skills while MACC provides training in Microsoft Office applications. This course is open to anyone, but it is a great opportunity for Ohioans that are at least 20 years of age or older. Upon completing the class, students will earn two certifications and their High School Diploma at no cost.
Aspire will soon be developing more partnerships with various employers in order to upskill employees, as well as creating IETs in manufacturing, entrepreneurship, and healthcare. This is both beneficial to the students, as their skills will improve, and also the employers and businesses.
“I think employers are finding out that their folks need upskilled in order to be promoted. One thing our program can do is customize a workplace education for them,” Karpiak-Feasal said.
“Our services are absolutely free. We can do workplace training. We’ll customize a program that will work for the specific needs of the employer and we can even come to the employer and house the classes right there, if need be,” Karpiak-Feasal said.
It all begins with the students' decision to move forward with their education, whether it’s getting their GED or improving their job skills. Some people come in just to get their brains working. The goal is to encourage and have students reach their next personal goals.
“I think I’ve just developed a huge passion for what we’re doing here and seeing the way that this program literally changes lives. Sometimes it’s just the first step. But you know what? That first step is a huge step,” McPeek said.
With programs spread out through Richland, Ashland, and Crawford counties, it is serving hundreds of adult students. There are classes held at 150 W. 5th St. and Madison Adult Career Center in Richland County.
They also serve those in drug and alcohol treatment at the Community Alternative Center. They’re located at the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Ashland County and the Crawford Success Center in Crawford County. There are also online classes available. For more information, visit their website.
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