Bringing school to the neighborhood

DANVILLE — Danville Area Community College has been offering GED classes for years this week they started a new class, off campus at the Fair Oaks Housing Complex.
Some people in Fair Oaks already take classes on campus, but DACC leaders and the housing authority realized they could help more people if they brought school to them.
Since taking their GED courses these women say the next step doesn’t seem so out of reach. 
“It helped me get the job I have today working with the Housing Authority,” says Sikarra Nicholas.
While on the job, Nicholas says plenty of her neighbors at Fair Oaks ask how they can get back in the classroom. She’s able to give more than one answer now that GED class is in session just down the hall. Her boss says that gets rid of one of the various problems in the community.
Jaclyn Vinson, director of the Danville Housing Authority, “Transportation is a huge need in our area.”
For 12 students Monday through Thursday that’s no longer an issue. Laura Williams, director of Adult Education at DACC, says the only cost they have is the effort they give. And for some people she says a different type of classroom might bring out their best.
“A lot of people who are high school dropouts have had issues with education, issues in school, so often times it’s not a comfortable environment. Having something in your comfort zone…you can get up and walk a few minutes and you’re here,” she says. “We want to see students move from this classroom to campus.”
For Nicholas that’s another campus. In June she’ll go north to DePaul University to follow her dream to be a history teacher. In the meantime, she hopes the new classroom in Fair Oaks will give more people the same opportunity she had.
She says, “It kind of helped me move forward and put things in perspective about what I want to do.”
These classes are offered Monday through Thursday mornings. You might’ve noticed the computers in the video. Those were just added yesterday for an upcoming computer literacy class. That’s expected to start in the next few weeks.
These new classes are part of a larger program. It’s called getting ahead. It’s a partnership between the Housing Authority and DACC. The hands-on program helps identify how struggling people got to where they are and how they can move on.

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