Graphic by Valentia Burlak
The average student at the high school attends classes from Monday to Friday, eagerly awaiting their 3:00 p.m. dismissal. Some students take on extracurriculars, staying in the building for extra hours. But does the average student know that there is a Night School in the building after they leave, that everyone in the community has access to?
Founded in 1832, the Brookline Adult and Community Education program (BA&CE) is the oldest non-credit, public education program in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. BA&CE hosts close to 800 courses a year across the town such as the high school, the Korean Church of Boston, the Brookline Senior Center, and several of the K-8 Public Schools of Brookline (PSB).
Classes range anywhere from learning to play the ukulele, painting with acrylics, photography, woodworking, understanding finance and learning English as a second language.
Known for its lecture series, BA&CE has hosted guest speakers that have included local celebrity and MasterChef contestant Anna Rossi, astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, actor Pooch Hall, and former Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Kenneth Feinberg.
Program director Michelle McGlone said that BA&CE’s mission is to serve as many people in the community as possible by giving them an opportunity to learn. Classes are affordable and open to people of all ages, including courses for children over school vacations.
McGlone said BA&CE hosts people of all different ages, backgrounds and income levels.
“We joke around saying that we cover from the cradle to the grave, we’ve got it all. In regular public schools, it’s just K through 12, but BA&CE goes a little bit beyond that,” McGlone said.
While classes vary, McGlone said the general course structure is very interactive and conversational.
Olivia Reyelt, an art teacher at Driscoll, took a pottery class through BA&CE and said the flexibility of the course allowed for people of all experience levels to take the class.
“It was structured in a way to meet all learners at whatever point they were at, which made it so that people didn’t feel intimidated and felt very comfortable,” Reyelt said.
Some BA&CE courses and lectures are specific to occurences in the town, which adds to the sense of unity for learners. One of the upcoming lectures is focused on the 2022 US Open being hosted at The Country Club.
McGlone said that oftentimes, when you’re an adult with responsibilities to manage, it can be hard to find a way to re-engage with the community, yet BA&CE makes this possible.
“It’s something that’s very special in terms of bringing people together for a common purpose. It gives all learners a place to go and meet other people that have a similar interest as them,” McGlone said.
Arthur Conquest, a member of the BA&CE Advisory Committee, said having an affordable, accessible and inclusive education program for curious people is something that learners in the town continue to cherish. Conquest said Giving people the opportunity to learn at all stages of life is something that makes BA&CE special.
“People who are educated don’t stop learning when they retire or after they go to college,” Conquest said. “They continue to learn.”