Adult Learning at QC

Welcome to QC Enews Empowerment

When Quality Connections began its Montessori-based program, it was often referred to as “QC Learning” because it was designed to help the people we serve become more independent in their day-to-day lives.

Our instructors, led by the phenomenal Vicki Barber, guide participants through hands-on, sensorial lessons for reading, writing, math, and time skills. Music and drama classes are offered daily along with regular excursions into nature and educational visits to a variety of places in our community.

But over the years, QC Learning has added more and more modules for training in very specific skills. Some serve to enrich the students’ lives, but others allow them to explore possible work opportunities. Which is why now think of the program as our Pre-Employment Training Center.

We hope you enjoy this edition of Enews Empowerment.

– Armando Bernasconi,
Co-Founder and CEO

QC Learning Program at Quality Connections

A typical day at QC Learning could involve any – or all – of these activities:

Learning how to use a camera. Talking on the radio. Gardening (well, probably not gardening right now, but certainly in the spring). Working a sewing machine. Crafting jewelry. Playing a musical instrument. Learning a new recipe. 

Every adult student at Quality Connections – all of whom have some form of developmental disability – has the opportunity to go through each class, says Vicki Barber, director of the program. 

“They can learn multiple subjects at many levels,” she said. “We use the Montessori method in our scholastic classes, but everyone has the opportunity to explore various job skills.”

Much of the expansion is driven by the students themselves. For example, the radio class came about when QC participants toured a radio station and decided they wanted to be behind the mic, picking the songs, and all the behind-the scenes work involved. Several months later, QC launched Route 66 The Ghost radio.

Here are the current training pods offered at QC Learning:

  • Pets and plants
  • Grocery store
  • Jewelry store
  • Sewing store
  • QC café and retail store
  • Community newspaper
  • Photography class
  • Technology class
  • Early Childhood Education class
  • Office training class
  • Automotive and vehicle inspection
  • Lawn and garden class
  • Radio class
  • Culinary arts
  • Music training class
  • Theater training class
  • First aid CPR training
  • Outdoor garden & greenhouse

By continuing to build this program, we are able to better help our members explore possibilities for new skills and new interests, which ultimately leads to new jobs, greater self-sufficiency, quality of life, and integration in the community. 

Story of Success: Ryan

A member of the QC Learning for the past year, Ryan has said that his dream job would be a life on the rails, working as a freight train engineer.

But if that’s not in the cards right now, he’d be happy working at the Visitor Center in downtown Flagstaff, cashiering, stocking inventory, and helping customers.

The Visitor Center is located in the city’s railroad station, so he’d be near the trains he loves.

That kind of sums up Ryan’s attitude – if Plan A doesn’t work, let’s go for Plan B.

“Ryan stands out for his willingness to try many different things,” said Vicki Barber, QC Learning Director. “No matter his disability, he has a very positive approach, a never give up attitude.”

Ryan is working his way through many of the training pods at QC Learning and is also part of QC’s Group Supported Employment training, performing janitorial work at a local junior high school. Vicki says he takes pride in that he is a good team player and is learning additional work skills.  Ryan is also one of the star DJ’s on Route 66 The Ghost radio station.

In the summer, you can find Ryan at Camp Civitan. He says the summer camp gives him the chance to make friends, enjoy the outdoors, and learn about nature.

Ryan’s also quite athletic and has been a member of Special Olympics since 2018 when he was in high school. Throughout the years, he has competed in a wide range of sports, including bocce ball, track and field, bowling, cheerleading, snowboarding, swimming and snowshoeing!

Ryan isn’t intimidated by learning new things – whether he’s at QC, at his workplace, or on the playing field. His outlook on life is perfectly reflected in two of his favorite phrases – “Bring it on!” and “I GOT this!”

And just like the railroad trains he loves, Ryan keeps on rolling.

We need Quality Connections . . . like you!

You can help individuals with disabilities become independent and productive members of our community. There are many way to be a ‘Quality Connection’ and get involved and all of them are important:

Every purchase from QC Office equals employment and job training opportunities for a person with disabilities.

Enable a person with disabilities to become a productive member of our community.

You’ll be doing good. Plus, you’ll get a dollar-for-dollar credit on your AZ state taxes (up to $800!)

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