Methuen’s Adult Learning Center and its students are thriving in their new location. During last month’s open house, proud staff offered tours while diligent students presented their spring projects to visitors.

In December, following some structural damage, The Dr. Shirley Forrest Callan Methuen Adult Learning Center moved from its longtime location at the Currier School on Boylston Street to the former Central School at 10 Ditson Place.

“The new location is great!” smiled Supervisor of Adult Education Susan Prior. “It’s accessible to all our students and staff. We’re in the middle of Methuen, right on a couple of bus routes and in walking distance to Nevins Library.”

The Currier School, where the Adult Learning Center was located for about 30 years, is in a highly concentrated residential neighborhood. Parking was very limited and the building was old, dark and cramped.

This new space is bright, roomy, surrounded by three good-size parking areas and very close to Methuen Square. Adult ed students and staff share this building with Rec Department and Department of Public Works staffers.

For adult-ed students, though, their education often has little to do with location or an impressive-looking classroom.

“My students are just happy to be here, learning. They’re glad to be moving forward with their lives,” explained Intermediate Advanced Secondary Education (ASE) teacher Christa Exter, noting the impoverished conditions that many immigrants fled.

Students described the new site as “amazing” and gave a nod to the larger classrooms and improved parking. Then they got down to work, sharing their projects.

Karen Loeisiga of Nicaragua and Charosky Cazado of the Dominican Republic talked about finances, retirement and the importance of saving via investment. Their graphs showed the outcome of investing $100 a month for 40 years. The result would be $48,000 for money kept “under the mattress” vs. $240,000 (based on the interest rate and compounding schedule) in the S&P 500.

When asked what this project taught them about saving money, Karen joked, “I’m late!”

Jie Zheo and Feng Qian, both of China, shared their project on dumplings, which Zheo said are made “to celebrate a special day.”

Qian explained that they are “nutritious, both meat and vegetable, and they provide vitamins, fiber and are high in protein,” adding that the traditional cooking method is boiling.

Gibs Bernard of Haiti eagerly walked a visitor through his computer presentation on “The Value of an Education.”
“Education helps us find out who we are meant to be,” he said.

The Adult Learning Center is open to Methuen residents. It provides Adult Basic Education classes, including English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and preparation for the HiSET or GED, the standardized tests that Massachusetts uses to grant the high school equivalency credential. Daytime and evening classes are offered.

The school is currently full, with all of its 145 funded seats taken, according to Prior, while there is “a robust waiting list.”

“There’s still lots of need. That hasn’t changed a bit,” she added.

While the school stops enrolling in April, potential students can contact the school through the end of May. Call (978) 722-6067.