ADULT EDUCATION IN HOUSTON COUNTY
In Houston County, the technical college (a two-year postsecondary institution) is the sole public provider of adult education. The Middle Georgia Technical College (MGTC) enrolls students from four counties, including Houston County, and provides an extensive array of adult literacy services in addition to its other programs. All adult education activities in Houston County are in some way connected to MGTC, and all GED diplomas are issued through MGTC.
The adult literacy component of MGTC operates at a number of sites throughout the four-county service area, as well as through one-on-one tutoring. In Houston County, MGTC offers adult literacy services at eleven sites throughout the county, as well as at its Corder Road campus, four elementary schools, four churches, a community center, and on site at a city of Warner Robins facility. Classes are held mornings and evenings and occasionally on the weekend for some workforce training programs. Free classes are available in EL, family literacy, workplace literacy, GED preparation, and adult basic and secondary education. The GED test is offered three times a month at the Corder Road campus. In 2001-2002, MGTC awarded more than 400 GED diplomas. The positive impact of the adult literacy program is felt throughout the community. As Dr. Billy Edenfield, MGTC's president, puts it: "Every time we award a GED, [you can] see its impact on the individual, the family, and the community... a ripple effect."
Dr. Edenfield played a crucial role in initiating the CLCP in Houston County. He initially contacted the local Chambers of Commerce to ask them to join a task force focusing on adult literacy. This was the beginning of an important relationship between the technical college and the CLCP. The partnership is mutually beneficial. As Dr. Edenfield characterized it: "Some say the CLCP belongs to the technical college. I say it belongs to the community."
The MGTC's contributions to the CLCP include providing office space and other in-kind donations, instructors, classroom facilities, and advice. MGTC houses the Houston County CLCP at its Corder Road campus and covers all expenses, including postage and telephone, as part of a ten-year agreement. In addition, Brenda Brown, the director of adult literacy at MGTC, donates much of her time to help coordinate and improve CLCP services.
At the same time, the Houston County CLCP provides benefits to MGTC. It supports the college in its delivery of adult literacy courses through various recruitment strategies, advertising, and advice. The CLCP board of directors also functions as the advisory board for the adult literacy program at MGTC. Likewise, the CLCP contributes to the growth of the technical college by preparing learners for eventual enrollment at MGTC. When asked during a focus group interview what they hoped to do once they earned their GED diplomas, a group of learners all quickly responded: "Go to technical college!"
One MGTC adult education instructor listed several ways that the Houston County CLCP has contributed to her work: hosting banquets for teachers, obtaining funding for volunteer materials, supporting the state literacy conference, assisting with public relations, recruiting teachers and students, and providing occasional transportation. She feels that she can turn to the CLCP for any type of support: "They step up to the plate for a lot of things." The biggest benefit, she notes, is the CLCP's role in promoting adult literacy in the community.