Valley Works: Back to school for adult students

FRESNO, California

If you think the Fresno Adult School is just a place to take a computer or cooking class, think again. Its career technical education program is putting adults on the fast track to employment.

Serious discussion for students serious about their future.

Will Anderson said, "I wanted to make a career move, it's nowadays you have to have a career if not you're not going to have a job."

Anderson, 31, ended up enrolled in the certified nursing assistant program at the Fresno Adult School after being laid off one too many times.

"It's stability wanting to be productive every day," Anderson said.

They are also here because they know this program will take them as far as they want to go.

Kirsten Morris said, "I want to eventually have my LVN so I started with my CNA license after this I will go on to the LVN."

Fresno Unified administrators say that is the purpose of its career technical education program for adults. Students can start at one level, get a job and continue up the pathway. That is the way the nursing program works. Once they get certified as a CNA many move on and get their license as a vocational nurse. Amanda Anderson, 26, says it's helping her reach her lifelong goal of becoming a registered nurse.

Amanda Anderson said, "They have a great reputation of really preparing students to move on as nursing as a career."

Nursing is the career path most in demand, but the adult school also offers other programs such as emergency medical technician or EMT, food services, office assistants and computers. Counselor Pang Vangyi says the districts goal is to give their students the competitive edge needed in today's job market.

Counselor Pang Vangyi explained, "When they leave here they are prepared to pass their state board exams, certification exams so that they are highly qualified to be able to compete in the community for the job market out there."

Fresno Unified officials say its career ready approach toward adult education is good for the local economy because it is putting people back to work.

Anderson said, "I've known a few people who've gone through this program and they are doing well right now, well right now."

The adult school is popular with students because it doesn't charge tuition. Students do have to buy their books and pay for supplies. The programs range from six and a half weeks to 53 weeks.

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