Jayne Clarke has been working in family literacy for over twenty years. Her background is in early childhood education but the feeling something was missing inspired her to begin volunteering when she saw a poster for CanLearn’s Magic Carpet Ride program. She quickly made the transition to employee and has been working in family literacy ever since. Jayne’s work has always been adult based, she understands that any skills she teaches parents will benefit the entire family.
Jayne’s approach to adult learning is founded in a belief that everyone has the right to access education. Her job is not to dictate what learners need to know, but rather to listen to their voices and their needs and help guide them to the next stage of their learning journey. For Jayne, every learner is an amazing, resilient person with a love for learning. She views her role in their journey as one to provide support and make sure they know they are not alone in the process.
There is no set curriculum for the programs Jayne facilitates. She works with each learner to identify their skills and needs, and from there, builds a unique program for their development. Jayne always starts where the learners are and focuses on their strengths. She works to remove learning barriers and builds programming based on the skills the learners already have, making sure all of the work that is done is learner centered. The process is the same for Jayne whether she works on a one-on-one basis or in a group setting.
When the pandemic hit, Jayne held an information night with the parents in her programs, to determine needs. One idea brought forward was that of a cooking night. While a cooking night is logistically very difficult in an in-person environment (because of location and health regulations), Jayne took advantage of everyone being at home to organize a weekly online gathering. Over the past 18 months families have met weekly to share stories, ideas and recipes, all while cooking from the comfort of their own kitchen.
Jayne points out that even though cooking is of interest and necessity to the families she works with, it also teaches and develops numeracy, reading, writing and conversation skills. The group has produced a cookbook with family recipes that is continually updated and shared with the members. In addition to teaching literacy skills, the group creates a community where families can come together, discuss issues, ask questions and bond over a daily practice like cooking.
The cooking class is an excellent example of how Jayne develops programming based on learner needs and interests, and fosters the community and relationships she believes are integral to adult education.
Jayne is a familiar face at CanLearn having worked with every literacy program offered except for CanMath and C.A.L.L. She is currently working with Magic Carpet Ride (literacy for families with young children), Reading Connections (for adults who want to improve their reading skills) and Taking Charge (for adults who want to return to learning).
Jayne’s quiet, patient and humble nature make her a natural fit to provide a safe and respectful environment for families to learn new skills. She is inclusive and understanding, and works tirelessly to make sure her families have complete trust in her to guide their learning journey. It is the families that Jayne works with that make this a job she finds so rewarding.