New adult learning chief takes reins

MIDDLEBURY — Vermont Adult Learning in Middlebury has a new center coordinator. Joseph Przyperhart joined the team on June 9, and hopes to help Middlebury VAL increase its presence in the community.
Przyperhart replaced retiring Joe LaRosa, who was the head of Middlebury VAL for two and a half years.
“One of the big things I’ll be working on is making sure people know that we exist and what services we provide,” said Przyperhart of his new role, which includes overseeing the six full-time and two part-time staffers at VAL.
Middlebury VAL is one of seven such locations around the state that offer Vermonters age 16 and up the free opportunity to earn a high school diploma; prepare for the GED; or brush up on basic math, writing, reading and career preparation skills.
Przyperhart, 50, of Tinmouth brings varied experience in adult education to his new position. He has most recently worked for Community College of Vermont teaching environmental biology, mathematics and career readiness. He has been an administrator for various nonprofits and has developed education programs, including the educational program at the Smokey House Center in Danby, an organization dedicated to helping young Vermonters gain hands-on learning experience at the site’s forest and farm.
“I’ve worked with students ranging from preschool age to senior citizens,” said Przyperhart. “I love having that range … and I really love working with adults.”
Przyperhart said that VAL works very closely with other social service organizations in the county, including public schools, the Department of Labor, and Reach Up. He said he hopes to “strengthen these relationships through more active partnering.”
Recent changes in state education requirements make providing adult education an ever-changing venture, Przyperhart said. The GED (an approximate equivalence to a high school diploma) was recently updated, he said, and a year ago last June, the state did away with the Vermont Adult Diploma Program, expanding the already existent High School Completion Program to serve all students age 16 and up.
The High School Completion Program allows for “more intensive, more individualized instruction,” said Przyperhart, “and GED testing is now more challenging than before.”
These changes have allowed for a more complete, rigorous education, Przyperhart said. He hopes that they will not scare people away from pursuing a high school diploma or GED certification at VAL.
“Even if you’re nervous, come in. That’s what we’re here for,” said Przyperhart, adding that, “in this age, it’s becoming more and more critical to have a high school diploma.”
Even for adults who have already earned a diploma or GED, Przyperhart said that brushing up on skills can be beneficial. VAL can offer remedial reading help for adults who already have a diploma.
“On most any job, you’ve got to be able to read,” he said. “Admitting a weakness is hard … we encourage everyone to come in here with their education needs.”

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