Amherst – While many students around the state are bemoaning the longer school year to make up snow days, another set of students are celebrating more weeks of classes: adults who study at The Literacy Project’s Amherst classroom are excited to hear that the organization is able to extend the school year by 4 weeks, due to additional funding from public and private sources.
Eileen Barry, The Literacy Project’s Adult Basic Education teacher in Amherst commented, “When I told the class that we would be able to have four more weeks of class, they cheered! One student who is a refugee from Nepal said, ‘I am so happy because it will give us more learning time. We need it so much!’”
“Minimizing the break from class in the summer can be especially helpful for our many students who are acquiring English-language skills, as students can lose some of what they have learned when there is a long break in classes,” says Sheila Murphy, Amherst Literacy Project Site Director.
For the past 3 years, The Literacy Project has ended the school year in May due to state and federal budget cuts. With new funding from United Way of Franklin County, the MA Department of Education, Community Foundation of Western MA and private donors, The Literacy Project has been able to restore 4 weeks of classes and add 2 additional weeks of planning time for teachers. This year classes will end on June 19.
“Pedagogically, it makes so much sense for our students to have more time in class so that they can complete their educational goals,” says Judith Roberts, Executive Director. “We are thrilled that we have secured funding to extend the school year.”
“Our students learn and improve their skills every week of class, so these 4 extra weeks really make a difference,” says Murphy.
The Amherst classroom is one of five locations in the Pioneer Valley where The Literacy Project offers free classes to help adults complete their high school education and prepare for college and careers. Over 400 students study at The Literacy Project each year, in classes taught by staff instructors and supported by volunteer tutors. For more information about The Literacy Project, contact Judith Roberts, Executive Director, at 413-774-3934. ext. 17.