Ennis Continuing Education Program to hold registration, public meeting

Adult education in Ennis is cranking up again, but this year will feature several changes to the old program.

What used to be adult education will now be called the Ennis Continuing Education Program, said one of the program’s coordinators Jon Goodman. The winter session will feature an expanded class schedule, with more changes to come during the spring session, which will start sometime in March.

The changes in the program’s name really was important because the new program will be markedly different from what people have come to think of adult education in Ennis, Goodman said.

“Adult education to me did have certain implications of it being sponsored by the school versus this being really by and for the community,” he said.

The main registration for the winter continuing education classes will take place this Saturday, Jan. 15 at the Ennis High School from 8 to 11 a.m.

On Monday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. at the high school, Goodman and his fellow coordinator Toni Fanning will hold a public meeting to talk to people about the vision for the new program as well as solicit feedback and information from community members.

“My hope is we can reach a broader range of the community and get a lot of feed back from those two events right there,” Fanning said.

The new program will not only provide classes for people to learn new hobbies and skills, but also provide some opportunities for continuing training in programs and areas important to people navigating the evolving job market.

For Goodman, the vision for the new program came from the Horizons process in Ennis that started a few years ago as a way for the community to look at poverty issues.

“My interest in it evolved when somebody asked the question how do we eradicate poverty when poverty is defined as the lack of something,” Goodman said.

The new program will be formulated around five categories of classes, encapsulated in the phrase Ennis CARES. CARES stands for five class categories: Community, Arts, Recreation, Enrichment and Sciences.

And while this winter will feature an expanded course list, including stock market analysis, community band, quick books and conversational Spanish, the spring session will likely be even more expansive, Goodman said.

He and Fanning will be circulating surveys at the course registration, community meeting and through the newspaper in an effort to gauge what sort of classes people would like to take and if there are any subject people would like to teach.

“This is ultimately a program for the community and by the community and we actually don’t know the entirety of the courses (we’ll have in the spring),” he said. “We really are trying to gather input from the community on what they want to learn and what they can teach, because a fuller version is coming in six weeks.”

The community meeting will also feature several of the course instructors to answer questions as well as members of an community advisory committee that has been helping Fanning and Goodman get the new program going. The whole goal of Monday’s meeting is to begin gathering information to make the Ennis Continuing Education Program the best it can be, he said.

“We seriously think we can have the best program in the state of Montana,” Goodman said.

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