Southern Hilltowns Adult Education Center

Located in Gateway High School
12 Littleville Road • Huntington, MA 01050

Live Local / Learn Local

Serving the Towns of Huntington, Chester, Russell, and Middlefield Massachusetts

Mission Statement
The Southern Hilltowns Adult Education Center is a community resource for adult learners, where the individual's education and career goals are supported in a learner-led environment. Students can study math, science, reading, writing, social studies, computers and other subjects that enhance workplace skills and encourage leadership. The Center honors and welcomes the rich diversity of its community of learners and teachers.

Who we are
The Southern Hilltowns Adult Education Center has its main classroom in room 152
of the Gateway Regional High School Complex.  SHAEC was started in the summer of 1999 as an extension of the UMass Labor/Management Workplace Education Program. It is funded by a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the 
Mass Dept. of Housing and Community Development. SHAEC is a small part of a larger grant that funds capital improvements to small towns, such as street, road, and sidewalk improvements. 
A portion of the grant supports social service agencies, such as SHAEC. Other social service agencies served through the grant include The Huntington Food Pantry, The Hilltown Domestic Violence Task Force, The Hilltown Elder Network, Hilltown Social Services, and local Low income Housing Rehabilitation Grants. The current CBDG grant was applied for by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC), through the lead town of Russell, in partnership with Chester, Huntington, and Middlefield.

What We Do
SHAEC provides the only adult education program for the Southern Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. SHAEC’s programing encourages workplace readiness skills, which include computer skills, High School Equivalency Test (GED) preparation, Job search and work readiness programs, and support for small business owners in the Southern Hilltown region.

We strive to meet the needs of the residents in the communities that we serve. Through a network of community volunteers, SHAEC has been able to expand its offering to include classes that encourage and promote sustainability and creativity, as well as offer classes in all of the towns we serve.

Our focus has continued to be on Adult Basic Education and Computer literacy, but has also grown to include classes in Sustainability. The Friends of SHAEC funded the start of the Countryside Community Garden, where individuals and families can grow organic food to help feed their families. Classes to support home gardening have included such topics as building a hoop house greenhouse, identification of garden insects, having a compost pile, permaculture, and companion planting, just to name a few. Other classes encourage the preservation of garden produce, such as pickling and canning. More recently, thanks to community volunteers,  SHAEC has offed classes in home cheese making, and looks forward to classes in beekeeping, and raising Sheep, utilizing wool, and other sustainable farming classes.

How We do it
SHAEC has been able to offer such a wide variety of classes thanks to partnerships with community organizations and businesses. For example, SHAEC has partnered with the Russell and Chester Senior Centers to be able to offer computer classes in the Senior Centers free of charge, as well as in the Middlefield Town Hall. SHAEC has partnered Jacobs Ladder Business Association, as well as the regional Community Development Corporations (the Hilltown CDC and the Franklin County CDC) to offer a number of quality classes to support small businesses in the region. Many JLBA members have offered free classes through SHAEC, such as Stu Besnoff of Alpine Solar Heat and Hot Water in Windsor, who taught a series of classes on Renewable energy.  Many classes are taught by community members, who would like to share their expertise with others.

How You Can Help
There are many ways you can help. Consider volunteering to teach a class, or perhaps join “Friends of SHAEC”, a non-profit, fundraising and support group to help keep SHAEC alive during the leaner times, and to fund classes that are not under the specifications of the CBDG grant.

You can also help by hanging flyers in your community, or help in other ways to advertise our classes, such as posting them on social networking sites.
If you believe quality, adult education is important in the Hilltowns, and would like to help out the Friends of SHAEC in their fundraising efforts, please contact us at SHAEC for our next meeting date and time. 

If you would like to donate to the Friends of SHAEC, our mailing address is SHAEC, 12 Littleville Rd, Huntington, MA 01011. Contact us with your thoughts and ideas at 413-685-1052 or email us at Southernhilltownsaec@gmail.com