Cynthia Adams of Sackville recently received the Queen Elizabeth the Second Diamond Jubilee Award for her tireless contribution to adult learning in the greater Sackville area.
Adams, who retired as a public school teacher after 33 years in the system, was only ‘retired’ for a short time when she filled a need for a teacher in the then newly formed Community Adult Learning Program in Sackville. She has now held that position for nearly 20 years.
Bill Trentini of Sackville, a committed advocate of adult learning and literacy and recently retired chair of the local committee that supports the class, recruited Adams for the position.
The Community Adult Learning Program is a partnership between the community and the government, specifically the department of post-secondary education, training and labour. Funding for a teacher is received via a regional community board, which in this region is the South East Regional Adult Learning Board, chaired by John Read of Sackville. Vice chair for the board is Jan Leger of Port Elgin, also a Diamond Jubilee recipient.
Adams has always been a trailblazer and operates a unique program focusing on holistic learning. Recognizing that in order for adults to learn they must be able to concentrate on their studies, Adams identifies the special needs of each learner and supports them.
“If the learner needs to get to a doctor’s appointment or is worried about a family matter we talk about it and if necessary I get them the help they need and arrange for a drive to the doctor. If it is a lawyer or a speech therapist they need we find a way to make that happen, that way we don’t lose the learner because of other problems- life can get in the way sometimes” says Adams.
“What makes Cynthia special is that she is 100 per cent learner focused and sees herself as a broker of services to the adult learner . . . going the extra mile for her students, says Jerry Hicks, regional adult learning consultant for Community Adult Learning Services, the branch of government responsible for Adult Learning, and also a Sackville resident. “Her passion is inspiring.
“Cynthia inspires younger teachers with her passion and willingness to give the adult the attention they need which in likelihood was the very thing that did not allow them to complete school in the first place . . . I am so pleased to see her recognized in this way.”
A learner summed up Adams’ approach by saying, “She wants to know about your life, she knows that affects your work. She’s not just a teacher. She looks at you and really listens.”
At a recent anniversary dinner held in Moncton and sponsored by the South East Regional Adult Learning Board to celebrate 20 years of community based adult education in New Brunswick, Adams also received recognition for long time service by Read. Read noted in his remarks that Adams and others “will not get rich by teaching in our program but as you can see they are in no hurry to leave for greener pastures.
“Our teachers are passionate and incredibly dedicated . . . we give them the freedom to make a difference . . . and they do.”
Funding in the form of operating costs for the program comes from the province, however no funds are given for classroom space, which must be provided free of charge by the community for the class to exist. Read thanked town council for providing space for the class.
Adult learners study the basics of grammar and math, together with basic computer skills, and most work toward the Adult GED exam.
Within the province of New Brunswick, as many as 56 per cent of adults do not have the literacy levels necessary to function in modern society. Adams has risen to that challenge and is herself a continuous learner.
If anyone is interested in learning more about the Community Adult Learning program in Sackville, or joining the class, contact Adams at 536-2204. For information on programs in the region contact Hicks at 856-2241.