Portage College CALPs Adapting to Community Member Needs

April 28, 2020

Portage College continues to operate Community Adult Learning Programs (CALPs) in several communities in the large region it serves – even in face of COVID19. These CALP programs provide adult literacy and foundational learning like digital literacy that is usually delivered face-to-face. With the pandemic, this has required the program to adapt.

During this difficult time, the CALPs have done a tremendous job of staying connected with learners. In Bonnyville and Elk Point, the staff continue to reach out and provide support over the phone. Carmen Murphy, who runs the Bonnyville location, even does an English Language Learner class over the phone and teaches conversational skills. Sandra Bishop in Elk Point mostly focuses on helping interested individuals including seniors develop the digital skills required to stay connected.

In areas like Frog Lake and Cold Lake, CALP coordinators Meghan Ostertag and Sherry Day have offered online instruction via email or phone.  In Kehewin, Charlene Medema runs her classes at a distance with 12 learners continuing through some pre-GED work at scheduled times.

Sheila Pchelnyk at the St. Paul Family Literacy CALP has connected with the Family and Community Support Services and the Saddle Lake Boys and Girls Club to support parents who are at home with their children, because in some cases parents need a refresher to be able to support their children’s learning.

“It’s heartwarming to see the can-do spirit from CALP staff and students in this challenging time,” said Don Moore, Associate Dean at Portage College. “It’s an honour and privilege to be working with such dedicated people who realize that just because there’s a pandemic, it doesn’t mean that learning has to stop.”

Portage College University Transfer is also running a newly-developed Conversational Cree Course online through the CALPs in Frog Lake and Elk Point. The course offers Cree speakers a chance to teach their own language to community members interested in learning more about the language of our partners in the area. So far, the CALPs have received a strong number of applications to the program, including from administration members from a few First Nations.

“CALP staff felt that this course would allow learners to develop skills at home, and given that Portage had just finished developing it, this seemed like a perfect time to roll it out!” said Moore.

For more information on CALP programming in your area, contact info@portagecollege.ca or call 1-866-623-5551.

Media Inquiries:
Jaime Davies, Corporate Communications Manager
780-623-5581 or email




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