For the 11th year in a row, Montgomery Adult School, part of the Sweetwater Union High School District, held their annual Viva Vida conference on April 25. The conference is designed to give students exposure to a variety of skills and career possibilities by attending workshops. The unspoken question at the conference and on the campus was, will this be the last one?
The conference is an all-day event put on by the teachers. Workshop offerings included baking, floral design, connections between vision and learning, goal-setting, Zumba, and more.
The workshop on interviewing skills overflowed. Career coach Kevin Leonard gave students tips for interviewing, which included: follow the interview’s lead; avoid debates; don’t discuss your children; watch your grammar. Students left with websites to search for job openings.
Students also displayed pastries that teacher Adriana Ventura taught them to make. One student, Angelica Avila, has already started her own pastry business, KikCakes.
Principal Adriana Aldana said Montgomery serves 7500-8000 students annually and offers them a wide variety of classes, some of which are recognized as credits by Southwestern Community College.
Aldana said, “You’ve heard people say I will be the first one in my family to get a college degree. For many of our students, they tell us they want to be the first one in their family to get a GED, or high school diploma, to set an example for their children….
“The mission of adult schools,” Aldana continued, “is to be part of making effective workers and strong family and community members.”
But adult schools are an endangered species. All Montgomery teachers and classified employees have been pink-slipped or received notices of transfer (they will be bumping other teachers.)
Aldana says the problem began in 2008, when districts were given the right to “flex”spend — to spend money from adult education in other budget areas.
Last year, Sweetwater took $1.1 million from adult education; from this year’s budget, the district will take $3 million to spend elsewhere in the district.
Several sources in the district have suggested Montgomery Adult School will be the campus of district superintendent Ed Brand’s “Sweetwater U” project — possibly partnering with Alliant University.