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Adult Education School celebrates 60 years

An art event tonight was designed to raise funds for a school marking its 60th anniversary.

“Italy Inspired” was organised to help support the Adult Education School in Hamilton.

The school was founded by E. Merle Brock Swan Williams, who started to teach in the living room of her mother’s home in 1958.

Gerald Simons, chairman of the AES board, explained: “She would have been doing what modern parents today would do if their child wasn’t doing well in school. “When she started I doubt that she would have envisioned a school taking in people term by term over the years.”

Over the years the school has helped adults to read and assisted students to achieve their General Education Diploma.

It has also given young people a second chance at education.

Donna Daniels, the school’s executive director, said the 16-25 year-old age group made up the bulk of the school’s students.

Ms Daniels added: “We’ve had young people from not only Government schools and home schools, but from private schools as well.”

She described the school as an “alternative education provider”.

Ms Daniels explained: “So where these young people or adults have not successfully navigated traditional education, we are able to - based on building the relationship first - get them back into education and working on what their needs are.”

She said that all students are comprehensively assessed on their math and English skills, as well as their “work readiness”, prior to receiving instructions.

Ms Daniels said pupils, after assessment, were offered “a range of programmes that meet individuals needs”.

Mr Simons added that it was hard to say how many students had benefited from AES over the years.

He said: “The records from the early years aren’t complete.”

Ms Daniels added the number of students aided by the school in the last 10 years as “about 500”.

Mr Simons said that up until 2014 the school had received information on GED test pass rates in Bermuda.

He added: “The Adult Education School’s pass rate was higher than other schools and the total number of graduates per year was higher. So our record of success can be clearly demonstrated.”

Both Mr Simons and Ms Daniels agreed that the biggest problem the school faced was funding. Ms Daniels said: “Everyone in the school is receiving some form of financial support.”

Mr Simons added: “The Adult Education School, like many charities, has been challenged by the economic decline over the past decade.”

The art exhibition and cocktail reception will be held at Front Street coffee shop MilanMilan starting at 5.30pm.

The previously unseen works by 16 local artists will be displayed as part of the event and the artists are expected to attend.

Tickets for the event cost $60 and can be bought at the school - on the corner of Dundonald Street and Brunswick Street - MilanMilan or through Ptix.bm.

Gerald Simons (File photograph)