Free educational programs offered at River Parishes Community College

Published 12:06 am Saturday, March 12, 2022

RESERVE — River Parishes Community College offers a variety of free opportunities to help adults become literate, obtain skills necessary for employment and self-sufficiency, and journey into secondary education and beyond.

The Work Ready U Adult Education Program helps individuals ages 16 and up obtain a Louisiana High School Equivalency (HiSET) diploma.

Other free services available through Work Ready U include ESL classes, academic tutoring for adults, distance learning opportunities, workforce readiness skills, scholarship opportunities and co-enrollment in River Parish Community College programs.

ESL instructor Sandra Horne said the adult education services are a hidden gem within the River Parishes community.

“The community needs to know we have resources available. The college is very essential to the growth of our community, and I think it has been under-utilized. The more people know about the resources we have available, the more people can benefit,” Horne said.

Work Ready U instructor William McGee Jr. said the high school equivalency program offers flexible learning opportunities that also allow individuals to take the next step in pursuing a trade.

Classes are offered from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Night classes are also offered Tuesday through Thursday, from 4 to 8 p.m. Instructors offer a combination of small group and one-on-one instruction. Students are given the freedom to work at their own pace as the staff helps them develop academic skills and test-taking strategies.

While the HiSET is offered to adults ages 18 and up, minors ages 16 and 17 may also obtain their high school equivalency diploma with a signed waiver from the School Board. Individuals must present a driver’s license or ID.

McGee invites students to walk into the Reserve campus to fill out an application and learn more about the in-person and virtual instruction opportunities.

“When they first come in, we have a test to see what level they are on. Once we find out what level they are on, we concentrate on what they need. The students have a chance to graduate with the college,” McGee said. “Once they get their GED, they can go on to college. We have what’s called ‘The Next Step’, where we have other programs they can take if they want to further their education. We’ll pay for that for two years.”

The Work Ready U Program at the RPCC Reserve campus can be reached by calling 985-536-4418 Ext. 4264 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Work Ready U is also offered at the St. Charles/ABC Center in St. Rose, the RPCC Gonzales campus, the RPCC Westside campus, and by appointment at the St. James Human Capital Center. These services will be arriving soon at the RPCC St. Charles campus in Boutte.

Meanwhile, English Second Language classes are available free to the public at RPCC’s Reserve and Gonzales locations.

ESL classes are offered from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Wednesdays in Reserve and Gonzales. Night classes are offered from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

Two instructors are available to meet students where they are, whether they are totally new to the English language or learning at an intermediate level. Topics cover vocabulary, English pronunciation and grammar.

Discussions on culture have also been incorporated into the program, allowing students to share their unique experiences and viewpoints.

“It’s an inviting atmosphere. Everybody in the class feels comfortable with each other,” Horne said. “We have students from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras. I even have a student from Equatorial Guinea, the only country in Africa where Spanish is the spoken language.”

Horne emphasized that the program is not only open to Spanish-speaking students. One of her students is from Egypt and speaks Arabic.

“I believe in diversity, and I think that’s one thing that has allowed our country and our community to grow,” Horne said. “Especially after Hurricane Ida, I see so many people who have come into our community from different countries. They have added to the community with food trucks and other businesses that make our community more diverse. Diversity means growth, and that’s why I’m passionate about it.”

For more information about ESL classes in Reserve, contact Horne by calling 985-536-4418 ext. 4246 or emailing shorne@rpcc.edu.