Marion County Learning Center starts new season with new staff

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Byron ?Barney? McCarty (left) offers some computer suggestions to Lucas Hoskinson, a student at the Marion County Learning Center. McCarty and Renee Gilkey began working as instructional aides at the center in mid-August. The deadline for signing up for the current enrollment cycle is today, Sept. 19. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press

The Marion County Learning Center is starting a new cycle of nontraditional educational opportunities with two new part-time staff persons.

The primary purpose of the center is to help residents earn credits toward a high school diploma. The program assists students who are of traditional high school age as well as adults who are older.

Students can still sign up for this cycle of enrollment by Wednesday, Sept. 19.

The two staff additions, Byron McCarty and Renee Gilkey began working alongside site director Julie Harbor last month as instructional aides.

In that role, they help students with their course work and, particularly in McCarty?s case, with technology assistance.

?I am really grateful for the two new instructional aides that I have this year,? Harber said. ?Byron and Renee both have been in the community for many years and know many of the people that we are assisting.?

Each one brings abilities to the role that enhance their effectiveness, Harber said.

?Byron is great with technology, and Renee is great with data details, so together they are doing fantastic things to lighten my load,? she said.

?Most importantly, they both have a heart to see individuals succeed at achieving their goal to finish that high school diploma.?

McCarty, retired police chief and current city council member, said he?s been enjoying his new role so far.

?It?s been enjoyable,? he said. ?It?s fun working with the students, and it?s fun doing the computer work.?

In part because of Harber?s own experience as a foreign-language instructor, the Marion County Learning Center has been offering courses in that area.

?The conversational Spanish classes for home-school families continue to grow,? Harber said. ?This year I will have four classes for children ages 3-18, with about 35 students attending.

?Some home-school families are making use of our other resources to provide additional activities for their children?s education.?

Harber is broadening the center?s language assistance.

?I have also started English as a Second Language classes for people in the community who are learning to speak English,? she said. ?I am hoping to see that program grow.?

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