The Adult Basic Education program at the University of New Mexico-Gallup is well known at its North Campus location at 425 N. 7th St. Less well known is the fact that some ABE activities have been taking place upstairs in Gurley Hall at the Gallup campus for many years. But that is about to change.
“Closing the ABE location at the Gallup campus has been under discussion for a long time,” said Laura Jijon, interim manager of ABE. Final approval for the move was given last week.
The primary reason, says Jijon, is that the North Campus location offers a centralized, more compact environment that helps students stay focused and thus improves their chances for success.
“One of the biggest issues is that our students need structure and self-discipline,” Jijon said. “At the Gallup campus, there are a lot of distractions, and students can become engaged in other things in a way that doesn’t happen at the North campus. We have classrooms, so it’s not an open space. The way the campus is set up offers more of a sense of community and belonging for ABE students. The fact that a lot of them don’t feel they belong anywhere has helped them develop a sense of ownership in the North Side facility. It's a home away from home for many of them.”
Another reason for the move is that having staff all in one building will help them work together as a collaborative team, said Jijon.
Further, the staff will be able to broaden the schedule of offerings to make the best use of the three classrooms and computer lab. Most of the activity in GED and ESL classes currently takes place in the morning; Jijon would like to see the facilities occupied in the afternoon as well. To that end, she says afternoons might be devoted to skills review students – students who score too low on COMPASS to get into for-credit classes on the Gallup campus, but who don’t need the GED prep that ABE offers because they already have a high school diploma. These students are referred to ABE by advisors as not being ready for college, yet perhaps needing tutoring and computer work. Jijon thinks having the skills review program centered on the North Campus will allow the college to provide more structure for these students.
Finally, ABE staff at the North Campus have developed a keen interest in getting more involved with the North Side community.
“There is the Senior Center, the schools, the Boys and Girls Club, and a community garden is in the planning stages – students are interested in participating in these projects for a sense of ownership and pride in the local community,” Jijon said. “They would like to improve the neighborhood, as a long-term goal.”
Jijon said that the move would most likely be made in June, when there are no classes so that staff would be in place by mid-July, when the third session of ABE begins. The program hopes to hold a celebratory open house to welcome students and the community and introduce the center more formally to the neighborhood.