Kishwaukee College and Opportunity House, Inc. hosted the fourth annual commencement ceremony for clients who completed the Learning for Life I and Learning for Life II programs on Monday, November 9 in Jenkins Auditorium at the College. Receiving Certificates of Completion for Learning for Life I from Dr. Tom Choice, President of Kishwaukee College, were the following Opportunity House clients: Laurel Berg, Sheila Buchholz, Dana Dombrowski, Jason Meyers, and Ann Wallin. Receiving Medals of Completion for Learning for Life II were David Roberts and Elizabeth Weaver.
The graduates must have completed 32 hours of instruction in addition to class work offered by Opportunity House itself to qualify as having completed the Learning for Life I Program. On average, the clients took 2 – 3 years to complete the requirements. Clients who received their certificates live with their families, in an agency group homes, or in their own apartments and receive occasional support services from Opportunity House staff. The Medal recipients had previously earned their Learning for Life I Certificates and have completed additional coursework.
The commencement ceremony – for which the clients wore traditional gowns and mortarboards – included the singing of the National Anthem by Brian Perkins; welcome remarks from Dr. Choice; congratulatory remarks from Robert Shipman, Executive Director of Opportunity House, Inc.; and commencement address by Carla Raynor, Learning for Life instructor. The Class of 2015 presented Raynor with a bouquet of fresh flowers. After the ceremony the graduates enjoyed light refreshments with family and friends.
Opportunity House, Inc., located in Sycamore and serving DeKalb County, assists people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to work, live in homes of their choice, and enjoy community life. The Learning for Life program is a unique partnership between Opportunity House and Kishwaukee College. It began in 2009 with a first class taught by Carla Raynor, who is also the Coordinator of the Family Literacy Program at Kishwaukee College. Raynor integrated readings, activities, field trips and homework and then developed other units based on the interests of the participating clients. Since then, Learning for Life programs have covered a wide range of subjects, including history, transportation, geography, science and more.
One of the clients’ favorite units is Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) class. VTS is based in cognitive psychology research and revolves around an examination and exploration of famous artwork by students in a group setting that encourages communication about the work and interpretation of the image. This fall, clients viewed artwork from well-known masters and then created their own works. Their artwork was then exhibited in the annual Opportunity House Art Show in October, during which the clients explained their works to visitors.
The partnership between Kishwaukee College and Opportunity House is one of the important key features of the Learning for Life Program. Through the program, the clients experience intellectually challenging materials that motivate and engage their interest and curiosity as it improves communication, academic, and social skills. Many of the previous graduates have continued on in Learning for Life II and the Learning for Life III program is in the planning stages.
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