FAIRMONT – Community Education and Leisure Fairmont offers basic adult education classes for a number of years. Classes cover a wide range of subjects and basic skills and are targeted at those over the age of 18.
Chris Eisenmenger is one of three local ABE faculty members and has been teaching at Fairmont since about 2000. Prior to that, she taught ABE in the Martin-West CER County, but a low number of classes encouraged her to come to Fairmont. However, she teaches students from all over the district.
“If you specialize in GED, you will work on reading and language arts, math, social studies and science.” Said Eisenmenger.
She said they have practice tests in each of those areas that most people pass.
Eisenmenger said people can attend ABE classes for a variety of reasons. They work on workforce skills, resumes and computer skills. They use a computer lab at the South Minnesota Educational Campus.
“They can learn to read better to read to their children,” Said Eisenmenger.
She said that even having basic math skills is a really useful skill.
“I tell my class, if you’re in a store and you see something that says something about interest, you better know how to put things together so that no one takes advantage of you,” Said Eisenmenger.
She also teaches in prison and said she will allow anyone to come, whether they have a GED or not.
“To get a job worth anything, you almost need a GED or your degree,” Said Eisenmenger.
While people can take ABE courses for a variety of reasons, GED classes are really focused on taking classes to complete GED.
Stephanie Buzian, director of Fairmont CER, said: “Fairmont CER is part of a larger consortium for adult basic publications, and the consortium of which we are a part is in Worthington.”
She said people now have to go to Mankato to take their GED test, but they are working to offer it here in Fairmont.
“It will ease the burden of people who have to commute to work in Mankato,” Said Bouzian.
As for how long it takes someone to take courses and get their GED, Eisenmenger said it all depends on where they are in their education and in their lives. Busian said they had people who left classes for months or years and eventually returned.
Along with Eisenmenger, Sarah Schultz and Katie Gonzalez also teach ABE classes.
“We compliment each other very well,” Said Eisenmenger.
Gonzalez teaches a lot of EL (English) students. Buzian noted that all three teachers have different personalities, which helps students find a teacher with whom they work well.
In addition to different teachers, different times are offered for classes. ABE classes are held Monday and Thursday evenings from 7pm to 9pm and Wednesday from 10am to 12pm. They all take place in the SMEC building in Fairmont.
Eisenmenger explained that a teaching license is required to teach ABE classes. She is licensed as a K-6, having previously taught at Fairmont schools.
“I got into the Title I program with Tony Rosner. I had to walk past the adult newsroom every day and start asking them questions. “ Said Eisenmenger.
She said Ronnie Dower, a former Fairmont CER director, forced her to start teaching ABE lessons in prison.
At one point Eisenmenger worked two days in prison, one day in a work center and one day in the House of Hope.
In Eisenhammeger herself there were ABE students aged 17 to 80 years.
“We had the oldest GED student from Minnesota who graduated from our program,” Said Eisenmenger.
She shared that the woman had a list that included getting her GED. She then earned an adjunct degree at the University of Minnesota in Mankata.
“She worked hard for it and got it” Said Eisenmenger.
As Buzian said, the CER report “Lifelong learning” and the opportunity for someone to get their GED, no matter what stage of life they are in, shows that it’s never too late.
Eisenmenger said her favorite part of teaching ABE is watching her students learn. She especially enjoys watching them take a test on which they didn’t think they would do well.
“I tell them they have to believe in themselves. Their confidence has been shattered over the years. I love watching all my students succeed. “ Said Eisenmenger.
If anyone is interested in learning more about ABE classes, they can contact the CER office at 507-235-3141.