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Community education initiative flourishes for adults

WESTFIELD-Since 2008, residents in the Greater Westfield area have benefitted from a unique educational arm of Domus Incorporated.

Registration for Westfield Community Education fall classes is planned Aug. 26 from 5:30 – 8 p.m. in the Lang Auditorium of the Westfield Athenaeum, according to program coordinator Kelly Pelkey.  Classes are offered free to the public.

Westfield Community Education classes are offered on the campus of Western Massachusetts Hospital and the Westfield Senior Center. (Submitted photo by Domus Incorporated)

One of the fall offerings includes WorkForce Development Classes that features online job search and application process assistance, as well as instruction on resume development. Jane Toomey is the instructor and has been with Westfield Community Education since 2013 teaching computer literacy and workforce development classes. Toomey currently teaches at the Elms College in Chicopee with a focus on ESL (English as a Second Language), and also teaches computer literacy at the Forum House in Westfield.

“The classes help area residents be better prepared for the job interview process, gain basic computer skills, and find and use Internet job sites,” said Pelkey, adding that other classroom highlights include learning how to attach documents to online applications, write cover letters and create a resume.

Pelkey noted that classes are offered during the late afternoon and evening and are structured “college style.”

“Text books are purchased by the students for $35,” she said, adding, “there is homework and we have great instructors.”

Pelkey noted that classes are “content focused.”

“Most of our students want to get this done yesterday,” said Pelkey. “We are a no-nonsense program. We focus on test-related content only.”

Classes are scheduled at the Westfield Senior Center which has eight work stations, as well as the regular space at the Clark Building technology classroom which has 12 stations on the campus of Western Massachusetts Hospital on East Mountain Road.

General public computer classes will also be offered free this fall at both beginner and intermediate computer literacy levels. Topics covered will include using Google documents. 

“The public computer classes are conducted in a relaxed atmosphere,” said Pelkey, adding, “We serve a lot of the older workforce population and elderly.”

Rounding out the classroom offerings by Domus include HiSET/GED preparation classes and HiSET preparation level 1 and 2 classes.

HiSET preparation classes move at a slower pace and focus on mathematics, language arts, science and social studies. HiSET preparation level 1 and 2 classes review all areas covered by the exam. Both offerings run approximately 30 weeks. While classes are free, there is a “nominal” fee for the HiSET text.

“At registration night, math and reading comprehension tests are given,” said Pelkey. “The tests start with basic math up to algebra and reading consists of simple to slightly complex stories, poems, etc., then a question with multiple choice answers.”

Prospective students will also be asked to give a writing sample.

“Students are then either assigned to Pre-HiSET/GED or Levels 1 or 2,” said Pelkey.

For persons interested in computer classes, a simple skill assessment questionnaire is given at the first class.

“Students need to have a gmail account which can be done at the first class with the instructor,” said Pelkey. 

At press time, dates, times and locations of classes are still being determined. For more information on any of the programs, contact Pelkey at (413) 336-3100, or visit

Classes and services are provided through generous support from Advanced Manufacturing, Berkshire Bank Foundation, Beveridge Family Foundation, City of Westfield – CDBG, C & S Wholesale Grocers, Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, Kiwanis Club of Westfield, Horace A. Moses Charitable Trust, B.O.A., N.A., Trustees, PeoplesBank, Shurtleff Children’s Services, Inc., United Bank, Westfield Academy, Westfield Bank “The Future Fund,” Westfield Athenaeum, Western Massachusetts Hospital, and private donors.

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