A small towns’ ability can easily be overlooked in a state like South Carolina, but to those who live in them, their community is everything. That’s why family owned North Family Community School is committed to educating the citizens of North, S.C. and surrounding towns—they want to see an employable and successful county in the future.
North Family Community School, also known as The Challenge Center, is dedicated to the education and training of adults beginning with literacy all the way to earning their GED diploma. The Center focuses heavily on identifying individual learning needs and providing instruction on employment skills. Beyond the educational opportunities the Center provides, there is also a computer lab and Wi-Fi that is available for anyone to use free of charge. This allows access for the people of North and surrounding areas to search online for the information they need without having to pay for it. Those who work and volunteer at the Center offer their help to those who might be unfamiliar with technology, or need further help understanding.
Their computer lab is also used for testing, which is vital to the completion of a student’s education with the Center. The Center hosts TABE (Test for Adult Basic Education) testing, WorkKeys, and practice GED exams.
Since the Center has moved to a new and larger space located within walking distance for most of the town, the organization is able to host important events. Events range anywhere from town meetings or voter registration to weekly substance abuse programs.
“We try to stay as involved in the community as possible,” Sandra Sigmon, Executive Director, said. “We figure the more people who walk in the door, the more people will know about us and be able to utilize our services.”
The Center charges a small fee for their services, used to help maintain their programs. The organization recently offered free classes as an incentive to attract more students. Since they began 24 years ago, the Center has never turned away a student. Regardless of literacy level or learning obstacles, each student is given the opportunity to learn on a level that is comfortable to them.
“We have worked with a student who was deaf, so we figured out how to communicate with him. We have worked with students who need child care, so we set up a child swap with other students. We don’t turn anyone away because of their challenges because everyone deserves education,” Sigmon said.
Beyond offering access to education, the Center focuses on career readiness. The Center offers work skills classes that cover subjects relating to job applications, resumes and cover letters, job searching, interviews, and soft skills like confidence and presentation. In addition to covering these topics, students are able to take aptitude tests and explore job fields that might interest them by online job shadowing and research.
“It’s clear we want folks educated,” Sigmon said. “We also want to give practical skills and support so that our students can be successful in life beyond here.”