Photo Credit: COJO Flatbush
Each computer course graduate was hand-delivered a COJO Flatbush tote bag with certificate, congratulatory letter, and sweets.

COJO Flatbush CEO Louis Welz wasn’t about to let even a crisis like COVID-19 interrupt the commitment of COJO’s adult education students to bettering their futures.

As soon as the extent of the pandemic became clear in March, Welz announced that, beginning immediately, all courses would be offered online, with students and their regular instructors interacting virtually from their own homes rather than in the usual classroom venues.

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The arrangement included the adult computer courses – Basic, Advanced Excel and Introduction to Quickbooks, and Microsoft Office Specialist – as well as HSE and ABE (High School Equivalency and Adult Basic Education) classes.

That decision, coupled with the dedication in the ensuing weeks of both students and instructors, paid off earlier this month when 20 computer course graduates received their certificates. And that’s a story in itself.

“Usually,” said Welz, “we’d have the honor of personally presenting graduates with their certificates, along with our best wishes, at a celebration complete with a guest speaker and assorted refreshments. We were unable to do that this time, so instead we prepared congratulatory letters along with the certificates and included sweet treats for our grads to enjoy as they savored their success. Each of the graduates received their special packets hand-delivered to their homes.”

Welz has often spoken of the personal nachas he receives from COJO’s adult education classes. “Our other programs,” he said, “have a crucial but short-term impact on the lives of those who need help – for example, assistance in navigating a government program or completing a tax return – but our adult education programs offer long-term benefits for those willing to invest the time and effort to improve their job or career prospects.”

These particular graduates, Welz noted, deserved “additional kudos for accomplishing what they did under unusual and trying circumstances, during a massive public health crisis that necessitated remote learning in virtual classrooms.”

Each graduating class has its own unique stories, said Caroline Edri, Adult Education Director at COJO Flatbush. She noted that among the newest cohort of graduates is a 70-year-old man whose daughter had completed a previous COJO adult computer course. “This gentleman has always been interested in expanding his knowledge,” Edri explained, “but he never had the opportunity to learn computers, so he enrolled in our Basic course. While most adult education students are drawn by the chance to sharpen their marketable skills, his motivation stemmed from his intellectual curiosity. And the fact that he now knows his way around a computer only helps in today’s computerized society.”

The enthusiasm voiced by Welz and Edri for COJO’s adult education courses is shared at all levels of the social-service agency’s leadership. As COJO Flatbush President Moshe Zakheim put it, “We deliver so many services to our constituents, but this is on a different level, because the students take advantage of what we are able to offer and do so to improve their livelihoods and better provide for their families.”

For more information and to register for COJO Flatbush adult education classes – the next Basic computer course begins on Tuesday, Aug. 4 – contact Caroline Edri at 718-377-2900 (ext. 7604) or cedri@jewishcouncil.org.

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