Category Archives: Profiles

Betty Completes her Diploma

‘I couldn’t wait to call my grandma’: Recent high school graduate Betty completes her diploma with the support of the Adult Training Network and TVLA

Betty’s high school education ended early and limited her employment opportunities due to some obstacles she had to overcome. However, with the help of TVLA and PACE, she turned her life around by getting her high school diploma.

At 15, Betty dropped out of junior high school frustrated by the curriculum. Her academic performance suffered as a result of “hanging out with the wrong crowd” whose perspectives were a little tainted when it came to school and studying.

She decided to go back, but when she returned to class, she was with people younger than her which was hard.

“Having to go back to school to repeat a grade with kids younger than me increased my anxiety,” says Betty. “I felt I was too old even though I was the right age, but I just couldn’t do it so I quit. I wanted to go back, but it just seemed too difficult.”

And although she asked for help, Betty says at the time, she felt she didn’t have the support or the resources to help her succeed.

At one point, she tried to homeschool herself, but that too became an everyday struggle to complete the work. She missed opportunities to connect with other students and to talk with peers and problem solve in groups.

Feeling frustrated and defeated, Betty abandoned the thought of finishing high school altogether.

Over the next few years, the born and bred Albertan wandered into adulthood with no clear goals. She travelled through Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba working multiple jobs cleaning hotel rooms and serving at restaurants, but desired a career and stability. Without a high school diploma, however, she found herself with limited employment options.

It was when she turned 19 and moved from Alberta to Ontario that Betty decided to make the brave decision to get her high school diploma for a chance at a better future.  She reached out to the Adult Training Network.

The Adult Training Network at Peterborough Alternative Continuing Education (PACE) through the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board is an adult learning centre that helps individuals 19 years of age and older as they gain the credentials they need to access higher education and/or better jobs.  Learners can access workplace skills, including apprenticeships, computer training and credits, math, reading and problem solving, as well as a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR).

Betty worked diligently toward her goal of completing her high school diploma. Although the first few months were hard, she began to make a major transformation. As she concentrated on her course load, Betty developed confidence—enough so that she went searching for a tutor to help her improve her math grade.

Betty reached out to Trent Valley Literacy Association (TVLA) for help.

Trent Valley Literacy Association (TVLA) is a Peterborough-based organization offering individualized tutoring and small group learning to adults who want to improve their reading, writing, math and computer skills.  They also offer online training and workshops.  Workshops include Customer Service, Point-of-Sale (POS) and Retail Math Skills, as well as Digital Literacy.

Making great use of TVLA’s one-to-one tutoring, Betty flourished academically and socially. TVLA’s tutoring support empowered Betty to upgrade her math and English and they also provided her with the learning resources necessary to succeed.

“When COVID hit, my tutor and I had to move our sessions online. The problem was I didn’t have a laptop so TVLA lent me a laptop for six months so I could continue my sessions and do my work. The staff are very friendly and were ready to help me in any way,” says Betty.

Betty says the support she received from the staff and volunteers at TVLA and the staff at PACE gave her the willpower to complete her studies. She found the process very accommodating and was pleased by how many resources were available.

“At PACE and TVLA, everyone kept me on track and motivated me to keep going and get the work done,” says Betty. “My confidence has completely changed. When I first started, I couldn’t go into TVLA or PACE without someone with me. As time passed, I became more social and grew more confident.”

Betty’s TVLA tutor, Jane Garant, says she’s impressed with how Betty showed up for each session and put in a huge amount of effort into her math and English courses during their time together.

“Seeing how well she was doing really increased Betty’s confidence and motivation to move forward with other courses. She steadily worked away at all the needed credits with a commitment I really admired,” Jane says. “I really appreciated how Betty shared with me some of her past experiences and insights with an incredible sense of humour. I’m so glad I got to see her personality shine through in her writing and I’m so grateful to have learned so much with her.”

Jane says for anyone considering taking an adult learning course, but is feeling hesitant should pay attention to their needs and look at what supports are available to help them succeed.

“Do you struggle with anxiety? If so, what would make learning less stressful? Maybe it’s working one-to-one in a quiet space, doing shorter or longer sessions, or being connected with other learners doing a similar course. Either way, I encourage you to really find out what you need and ask for it. Learning as an adult can be nerve-wracking, but it can also open up new pathways you hadn’t thought of before.”

A place like TVLA with 1:1 support for learners, Jane adds, is absolutely crucial in our communities.

“Not only does TVLA provide support in completing mandatory credits, but it also offers a chance for increased connection and care from kind professionals at a time in life when there are very few of those type of resources available.”

This past fall, 24-year-old Betty graduated from PACE and received her high school diploma!

“I cried when PACE called me to tell me I finished. I jumped up and down with excitement. I couldn’t wait to call my grandma in Alberta to tell her the good news. I’m the first of three blood siblings to graduate so that was a big moment,” says Betty.

She’s now focused, more so than ever before. “I want to go to culinary school to become a cook or get trained as a personal support worker,” she adds.

Betty states “the PACE and TVLA staff supported and encouraged me throughout this process. They didn’t treat me as a child, but as a grown adult who wants her education. They gave me the tools I needed in order to be successful, not only in school but in life.”

Adult Training Network at PACE and Trent Valley Literacy Association (TVLA) are both located in Peterborough, Ontario. Thanks to funding from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, Adult Training Network and TVLA can offer programs at no cost to eligible adults in Peterborough. 

Further your education and improve your skills by working with their teams.  Contact the Adult Training Network and Trent Valley Literacy Association for more information.  You can also visit our Peterborough Programs page.


College student Tim Lobb takes charge of his future with the help of Community Learning Alternatives

After a workplace injury, Tim Lobb started working with the folks at CLA to upgrade his skills to earn his Grade 12 diploma making it possible to follow his dream of enrolling in college—in just two years.

Tim LobbWhen a serious workplace injury forced Tim, to take a leave of absence from his assistant supervisor job, he began to realize that he couldn’t return to the warehouse and building materials company where he had worked for 17 years.

The workload was physically demanding and involved heavy lifting. The thought of returning to work left Tim concerned about the possibility of getting reinjured.

While he was on the road to recovery, Tim received Workers’ Compensation and was aware it would only cover his medical expenses and missed wages for so long. He wanted to make a career change, but was at a loss for what he could do. The 47-year-old Trenton resident was armed with years of experience and a strong work ethic, but he worried that being without a high school diploma would be a stumbling block.

Tim was uncertain about his next move until a Workplace Safety and Insurance Board caseworker, who had been assigned to his file, recommended he pay a visit to Community Learning Alternatives (CLA).

CLA is an adult learning centre that helps individuals between the ages of 19 and 64 reach their goals. The organization is considered a key resource for adults wanting to upgrade their essential skills to benefit them in life, career, or training and education.

Thanks to funding from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and the United Way, CLA’s learning and skills programs are provided for free to eligible adults in Hastings County.

CLA helps learners with skills upgrading and preparing for post-secondary studies, apprenticeships and employment. It also supports people working on secondary school credits and offers specialized programs such as computer training, financial literacy and budgeting, PSW preparation, customer service skills, and more.

Tim said he was hesitant about going back to school.

“I was worried that I wasn’t school material and that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I assumed that there was no way I could get my Grade 12.”

Eventually, Tim cast aside his doubts and fears and finally met with a CLA instructor who worked with him to develop a learning plan. He enrolled in a three-month Literacy program to improve his reading, writing and math skills so he could pursue his high school diploma.

During the course of the program, both Tim and his instructor noticed how well he excelled at math, particularly in algebra and trigonometry. It would be a positive indication of things to come for Tim.

The program allowed him to progress independently and on his schedule. The smaller classroom size was an added bonus, said Tim, allowing him to receive more individualized attention and interact more with the instructor.

“It was less distracting and intimidating, and I didn’t feel worried about what the other students would think of me when I asked questions.”

In addition to support from his family and friends, Tim said his CLA instructor and instructors were an important source of support during his educational journey.

“The way the instructors teach the classes is engaging and interesting. They have a unique way of seeing what you’re interested in and they just roll with it to make sure you succeed.

CLA stuck by me every step of the way. Unlike any other centre I’ve been to, they treated me with respect and made me feel good about myself. I’ve had self-esteem issues in the past and CLA helped me overcome that. They pushed me forward and helped me believe that I can do anything.”

Tim encourages anyone interested in advancing their education or skills to explore CLA as an option. Even with a busy schedule, it’s possible to find the time.

“Don’t hesitate. It’s up to you to take that first step to check it out,” he says. “You will not regret your choice.”

Reflecting on how far he’s come, Tim says if he hadn’t attended CLA, he believes he wouldn’t have had the faith to work towards his high school diploma.

In the aftermath of that incredible day – and as he moves forward to his next step in his journey – Tim has discovered that:

“Everyone’s path is different.  The important thing is to “keep your end goal in sight.”

Two years since his workplace injury, Tim now has his sights set on finishing his Business Administration Diploma at Academy of Learning College in Belleville, where he is currently enrolled.

Community Learning Alternatives is located in Belleville, Madoc and Trenton. Discover your strengths and improve your skills by working with the team at