Wendy Hoben has come full circle with volunteering. She first started off as a volunteer in a GED class at the Berkeley Adult School (BAS) in 2001. She then switched careers from managing people at a startup to teaching at the Adult School, which she did for 19 years. As a teacher of Basic Adult Education, she had an excellent volunteer named Marc Korchin who would help out with math instruction. Marc eventually became a teacher at the Adult School and so when Wendy retired in 2021, she was able to return to volunteer in his classroom!
Adult Basic Education attracts students for a variety of reasons. Some join to earn their GED or high school diploma. Others are going through the culinary program and need basic math skills. Some are retirees who want to keep their mind lively and remain lifelong learners. Others want to help children or grandchildren with their homework, and need to stay on their toes. Wendy believes that it is her role to “bring a sense of enjoyment of the material and create a safe environment where it’s okay to make mistakes – because that’s where the learning happens.” Many of her students say that they feel rusty after so many years of being outside of school or they didn’t have positive experiences in school when they were kids. Therefore, it’s essential to reset the environment for learners. In the classrooms where Wendy volunteers, it’s okay to make mistakes! “It’s my job to help students achieve their own personal goals and develop confidence in their skills,” she says.
Berkeley Adult School is a hidden gem of Berkeley. In addition to GED and Basic Adult Education courses, BAS offers several large programs, including English as a Second Language, Career and Technical, Lifelong Learning, and Adults with Disabilities programs. Wendy says that the vibrancy of the BAS community speaks to the generous ways that Berkeley uses its resources. “You get as much as you give as a volunteer at the Berkeley Adult School!”