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Learning at Work: W&M Employees Embrace New Classes

Nearly 50 years ago, college and community leaders recognized the need for William & Mary staff to have access to their own educational opportunities. They started a small in-house Adult Skills Program, which has since grown into Literacy for Life.

Fast forward to 2022. W&M Director of Libraries, Carrie Cooper, had a vision for a Learn at Work program for William & Mary staff. As part of her doctoral studies, she has spearheaded a pilot program, enlisting Literacy for Life as its educational provider.

For the past several weeks, William & Mary's facilities maintenance staff have been encouraged to attend classes or request tutors during their work day. Classes offered are HEAL (health literacy), On the Money (financial literacy), and Tech Ready (digital literacy). These classes take place in Swem Library, conveniently located in the center of campus. For workers whose schedules prevent them from attending class, or who have specific learning goals not addressed by the classes, supervisors have encouraged them to request a tutor or attend ESL classes through Literacy for Life's traditional program.

Carrie Cooper has been extremely pleased with Literacy for Life's services during the Learn at Work pilot. "I have observed first hand Literacy for Life's extraordinary instruction, delivered with professionalism and passion," she explains. "We are so fortunate to have such an innovative, effective program right here on campus."

Meanwhile, W&M staff have embraced the opportunity whole-heartedly. The three pilot classes have rosters between twelve and twenty-one learners, and several individuals have requested tutors as well. Gedam (pictured above) attends Tech Ready and On the Money classes, and she also requested a tutor for citizenship preparation. Meanwhile, Charm has attended both On the Money and HEAL class this fall. She also met with a financial literacy tutor to address a topic not covered in the class, and she plans to request a tutor to pursue high school completion. "I'm so excited and grateful," Charm says. "The most important thing I have learned so far is that it's not too late to begin putting a little extra aside for retirement."

While any adult in the community with educational needs can seek the services of Literacy for Life, those affiliated with William & Mary have a special place in LFL's heart and history. "William & Mary personnel founded our program, and W&M continues to provide us with invaluable in-kind support," says Executive Director Jason Thornton. "Literacy for Life is linked to William & Mary in a very special way, and the Learn at Work program has felt like a homecoming. We are so pleased with the program and hope that this pilot is the start of something that will be sustained well into the future. We are impressed by Carrie Cooper's vision and are so grateful that the William & Mary Human Resources and Facilities Maintenance Departments have chosen to support their employees in this way."

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