Educational Initiatives

Quality education has the power to change people, families and communities.  The Care Center is committed to providing a wide range of free, high-quality educational opportunities and experiences for young mothers and their families throughout the year.

Enhanced GED Education
Young parents often come to The Care Center with the initial goal of passing the GED exam.  Our talented faculty and staff make learning exciting and engaging as students begin to see themselves as successful learners.  We believe this is the first step in changing their futures.

Often students arrive not perceiving themselves as smart and capable. In these early stages of students’ relationships with The Care Center, a critical component of our work is assisting students in transforming their view of themselves. We want to shift the narrative from one where education is disempowering, to one where there is a love of learning. Building confidence is a top priority.

Skilled tutors enhance our faculty’s work  by focusing on challenging areas,  building faith and filling in knowledge and skill gaps with students as they progress toward passing their GED examination. All the while, students are provided with enhancements which include courses in arts, humanities and athletics and Care Center College.

 

Care Center College

We have learned that the more college credits and experiences a student has before she enters college, the greater her chances are of completing her degree. Furthermore, there is a direct correlation between a woman’s income and the number of semesters of college she completes: the higher her level of education, the greater her earning potential. This is critical information for families living in poverty.  To that end, The Care Center offered six different on-site college courses to our students in the last year.

 

For more than a decade, The Care Center has offered GED students and other low-income women in our community The Clemente Course in the Humanities, a multi-faceted course which focuses on art history, moral philosophy, American history, literature and writing. Bard College awards the college credits and works closely with our cadre of top notch professors to deliver a comprehensive, two-semester college experience within The Care Center facility.

The Care Center’s Clemente Course in the Humanities is the oldest continuously running Clemente Course in the country, and the only one exclusively for women. It mixes two groups of women often denied access to higher education: young mothers and low income women seeking college experiences. This course has an impact on the whole community as aunts, cousins and grandmothers study side by side in a supportive learning environment. On average, 80 percent of the women completing The Clemente Course go on to college.

One Care Center program that has expanded over the last few years is Bridge to College. Initially, a handful of Care Center students and one of our faculty members audited a course at Holyoke Community College (HCC). This experience had a profound effect on our students, helping build confidence as they learned effective study skills and had a successful experience of academic life on a college campus. Our students were among the top students in the course. This led to the obvious next step: students taking college courses for credit.

This year, we collaborated with HCC to design a college course for credit offered to both our GED students and others enrolled at HCC entitled Women in Health. Eight of the 20 students participating in the course were Care Center GED students. This was a breakthrough in the number of Care Center students taking a single HCC class at one time. 

Humanities 108 is a one semester, three-credit college course offered at The Care Center for our GED students. This Greenfield Community College course was designed to prepare students for The Clemente Course for the Humanities and other college-level courses. It develops critical thinking as well as skills in reading, speaking, and writing. Skill-oriented workshops examine how a variety of writers have wrestled with some of the common questions, ideas, conflicts, and feelings human beings have about themselves and the universe. Humanites 108 is taught by two seasoned Clemente Course faculty members, both of whom hold PhDs from Yale University.

World Religions is offered through a partnership with Elms College. This challenging academic program is designed to heighten both world and religious awareness, and to improve reading and writing skills.  Field trips include an overnight trip to New York City where a mosque, synagogue, cathedral and Buddhist temple are all visited, as well as a visit to the Nipponzan-Myohoji Peace Pagoda in Leverett, MA.

Arts and Humanities
Observing the arc of sunlight as it comes through the clouds, poring over a novel with a hot cup of tea, viewing an original Picasso, transforming from nervous to comfortable while discussing passages from Shakespeare or Plato: all these experiences are available at The Care Center.

Through the ages, the arts and humanities have broadened our horizons, engaged our minds, given us hope, and helped us to imagine a future of possibility. The Care Center is committed to providing consistent exposure to the wonder of the arts and humanities. Our offerings include:

  • Photography classes at the Hampshire College film and photography facility
  • Painting, drawing, graphics, pottery and sculpture
  • Field trips to the art museums at Smith College, Amherst College and Mount Holyoke College, and to area art galleries
  • Poetry
  • Nautilus Editorial Board –  students participate in the editorial, design and publishing process for our annual publication: Nautilus II: An Anthology of Care Center Student Art and Poetry
  • Creative Writing

Athletics
In addition to building confidence, the experiential learning that occurs in sports reinforces abstract concepts in such disciplines as math, physics and science - undoubtedly two of the many reasons that diverse athletic opportunities are provided at college preparatory schools. For many students, terms they are learning in the classroom become crystal clear through a series of “ah-ha” moments. “Oh, this motion of the basketball is an arc… That yoga pose uses leverage… The amount of resistance I create when I row directly impacts the boat’s speed.”

The Care Center athletic program was launched with Rowing Strong, Rowing Together, and developed as part of a larger effort to enhance learning and extend the range of experiences available to teen mothers. Those students who participate in our rowing program often report having transformative experiences. They describe how being in the boat has taught them to be more patient with their friends and their children. Some reflect on the inner sustenance they receive from the silence they experience on the water. Many discover the need for cooperation and teamwork at a whole new level. Others simply express how satisfying the physical work of rowing is.

Over the years, more communities have joined Rowing Strong, Rowing Together, and other teen parenting programs have formed rowing teams in Boston, Chelsea, Pittsfield and Springfield, MA ; Hanover, NH; and in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven, CT. These teams participate in the annual Young Parents Regatta, hosted by The Care Center on a local stretch of the Connecticut River.

Every Care Center student’s core GED curriculum is enhanced with two athletic classes each week. Electives include:

  • Rowing
  • Distance Running
  • Bowling
  • Wallyball
  • Swimming
  • Water Aerobics
  • Yoga

Our exciting athletic options are continuously updated with fresh ideas. The newest electives include Zumba and Fencing!

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  • My Imagination

    by Dalisa Saldana

    Going away with you
    is like going to the moon
    and coming back.

    It's like sitting
    on the beach and
    listening to the waves.

    It's like going to China
    and exploring
    other cultures.

    You are my imagination
    where everything
    is perfect,
    colorful, and happy.