Young woman wearing glasses

Abbey Arnold encourages adult students

By Michele Handy

Blue Ridge Community College adult education students see a friendly face when they arrive at the lab to work towards their high school equivalency diploma.

Adult education laboratory instructor Abbey Arnold provides assistance and support for students studying English, math, social studies, science and writing. Arnold connects with students who work in person on campus, learning packets go back and forth for students studying at home, and some Zoom classes are in the adult education mix.

Arnold said, “I like getting to know my students and their goals as we work together in the lab. I most often work with students one-on-one. As students come to me for tutoring, we’re discovering together how they learn best. I like having time to listen and develop an individualized learning approach.”

Arnold has a unique educational experience. After being homeschooled from third grade through the end of high school, Arnold attended Blue Ridge Community College, and then transferred to Brevard College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English. Arnold excelled academically and is remembered fondly by her instructors at both institutions.

Arnold sees connections between her homeschool experience and the adult high school experience.

“The lab reminds me so much of the kind of alternative route I took in high school. My students have found the traditional path doesn’t work for them for a variety of reasons, and I’m so happy when I see them connect with more supportive options. Like homeschool, adult education can also be largely self-guided. I’m amazed and proud of how well my students manage their own education,” she said.

Adult education students join a learning community with other students who range in age from 16 to 76. Students have a strong base of support and can connect with community resources such as scholarships, NC Works job assistance, and referrals for housing and child care. Working with instructors and advisors, students determine their course of study and timeline based on the student’s goals and program requirements.

One of the program’s draws for students is the individualized study and learning approach.

“Every student who comes into our program has a unique educational, life and work background. Each person’s learning style, pace and timeline is different,” said Grace Sollé, Blue Ridge’s instructional coordinator.

“As a lab instructor, Abbey does a wonderful job of taking those differences into account and working on finding the best fit and approach for each student,” said Sollé.

While students may be focused primarily on academics, the program takes a holistic approach, working to build students’ work and life skills.

“What I really love about this program is that students have a good chance of discovering and getting the specific support they need,” Arnold said. “I want my students to come away from the program with a sense of confidence and trust in themselves to be able to accomplish their goals.”

The next new student orientation will be mid-February. Call (828) 694-1745 or visit http://www.blueridge.edu/ael to register or learn more information about earning your high school equivalency diploma or building academic skills through BRCC’s Adult Education and Literacy Department.