Thinking Global, Teaching Local

Lisa Wright still remembers the words written by a teacher on her second-grade report card: Lisa has an unusually high social conscience for someone so young.

Prophetic words indeed!

That report card was an early predictor of what she would ultimately choose to do with her life—and she was lucky enough to find it in her own backyard. Every day, Lisa fights for the educational, social, and economic empowerment of people right here in Long Beach—at the Adult Learning Center.

Students and Staff at the Long Beach Adult Learning Center

She grew up on the barrier island, but jokes, “I’m not really a local, I was eighteen months old when I moved here!” Lisa earned her undergraduate degree at Hunter College and went on to receive a Master of Science in Adult and Continuing Education and Teaching at Fordham University.

I connected with Lisa during my recent role as a Grantwriter for the Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP). PCHP is a nonprofit that trains specialists to go into the homes of families with very young children and prepares them for school. At no cost, they assist families struggling with poverty and language barriers—and their early education model yields amazing results. Lisa recruits local families into the PCHP program and coordinates the Long Beach training schedule.

But it’s just one of the many hats she wears for her job at the Long Beach Adult Learning Center. The building is tucked behind City Hall—at 500 Center Street. Run by a very small staff, the center offers basic adult education, GED preparation, a High School Diploma Program, and English classes for Speakers of other languages. Lisa is the Community Coordinator, Trainer, and Grant Writer.

She began as a volunteer back when the center was located on Walnut Street, then she took a position as the Managing Director at Council for Unity. It was a twist of fate that brought her back to Long Beach professionally.

She was asked by the director of the center to write a grant that would increase funding for the center. “The grant I wrote provided the funding to hire me,” she chuckles. “I basically wrote myself into a job. But I don’t even think about it as a job, it’s more of a calling. I got chosen to do this job. I have a passion and want to make a difference.” This summer will mark five years of her service to the community, working at the center.

It’s evident from her enthusiastic personality that Lisa loves her job and adores the people she works with. And she doesn’t seem to mind that her hours are long and all over place—including the evenings she spends helping people get their high school diplomas. “People are looking for a way to be successful, and I help them take control of their lives.”

Lisa, second from left, with her co-workers

The Long Beach Adult Learning Center isn’t just for LB residents, it helps people from all over the island—including the Rockaways and Brooklyn—and offers programs from child to adult. But Lisa especially likes working with adults “because they really want to be there.”

“This is where I’m happiest, this is where I belong, making a difference and working with good people.”

To learn more about what the center offers, or refer people you know who might benefit from their services, click here to check out their website.

And if you know any families with small children that would benefit from the Parent-Child Home Program, feel free to contact Lisa at lwright@lbeach.org. You can learn more about the PCHP early education program on their website, www.parent-child.org.

Peace out,

Cindi

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