Adult learning sector in spotlight

Adult learning awards recipient, hairdressing educator Sara Ellis, watches as fellow recipient,...
Adult learning awards recipient, hairdressing educator Sara Ellis, watches as fellow recipient, hairdressing student Autumn Stevens-Howell, gives Festival of Adult Learning awards organiser Ruth Groffman a bit of a tidy-up ahead of tomorrow night’s awards ceremony. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Seeing someone suddenly get what they are learning is a great moment, a Dunedin adult educator who is to be recognised for being ‘‘exceptional’’ at what she does says.

Sara Ellis, head educator at Harrington Vaughan Academy of Hairdressing, is one of 30 people who will be recognised for their contributions in the adult learning sector at a ceremony in Dunedin tomorrow night.

“When you see the lightbulb go off in the students’ heads, and what they are learning clicks, that’s a great moment,” the former hairdresser and now hairdressing teacher said.

Ms Ellis, who has taught hairdressing for 10 years, will receive an award as an exceptional adult educator.

What drove her was seeing her students get out of their comfort zone and learning life skills that would propel them into careers after the programme, she said.

Other people to be recognised include Otago Polytechnic English Language Centre students, some of its former Foundation learning students, polytechnic staff and 15 adult learners from various organisations around Dunedin.

Foundation studies are bridging programmes designed to help people meet entry requirements for other programmes of study, or give people work-ready skills

Hairdressing student Autumn Stevens-Howell (16), who started at the Harrington Vaughan Academy programme in July last year and has been taught by Ms Ellis, will receive an outstanding adult learner award.

She said she was a bit nervous, but excited about the ceremony, and grateful for what she had learned.

“I’ve built confidence in myself, my abilities and my communication skills,” Miss Stevens-Howell said.

More than 65,000 adults engage in some form of learning every year across New Zealand, including at Otago Polytechnic.

Festival of Adult Learning awards ceremonies are run by Adult and Community Education (ACE) Aotearoa and are usually held each year, though many have been cancelled this year due to Covid-19.

Organiser Ruth Groffman said she was happy the event which was postponed in September was going ahead.

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