Your knowledge treasure trove

Located just beneath the library in building 5, there is a place where Skyline students can go to get extra help for their classes.

Known as The Learning Center, this place has a lot to offer: from tutoring, to help with learning disabilities including disability assessment. The center also supplies students with computers, video resources, writing and reading workshops as well as certain key technology aimed at helping college students succeed in their classes, grow to be independent learners and move on with their educational careers.

Renee Garrett, student assistant in The Learning Center, credits The Learning Center for single handedly preventing her from dropping out of Skyline. As a working mom returning to college after a long hiatus, Garrett admitted to feeling a bit overwhelmed by her workload.

“But it was people in the learning center that actually gave me the confirmation,” Garrett said. “I walked in [The Learning Center] looking for the library and ended up finding a treasure.”

Garrett has been working in this position at The Learning Center for 2 ½ years and has seen many other students like herself succeed through the help of The Learning Center. Instructional aides have also seen these benefits first-hand. Manny Peix has been working as an instructional aide at Skyline College for 3 years. Before coming to Skyline, Peix used to work as the tutor coordinator at College of San Mateo before they closed down their learning center. Peix sees a tremendous value in keeping The Learning Center alive.

“There’s a lot of students here who couldn’t make it if we didn’t have [a Learning Center],” Peix said. “They would really struggle with college work.”

Chuck Leach, who is also an instructional aide in The Learning

Center, says “establishing personal knowledge and interaction with students” is their primary job. As instructional aide for reading, Leach says he mostly helps students with creating and presenting meaningful essays to their teachers. Often times he instructs students who know English as a second language. Leach and others are there to provide these students with extra or background information they might not already have. They also help students interpret the assignments correctly.

Peix is currently working on developing The Learning Center’s website to include tutorials taken from primarily university websites. These tutorials are available for students to work independently on their grammar, writing, math, science, study and test taking skills. Peix said students are still more than welcome to come by The Learning Center for help, but using the tutorials will be another option available to students to help them succeed.

The goal of The Learning Center is to produce independent learners. It is not there to create ‘miracles’ or to do the work for a student. Peix said a lot of times students will come into the learning center with a massive paper due the next day.

“I tell people, smart students work on things ahead of time,” Peix said.

Skyline student Tomas Hernandez says he finds The Learning Center environment exciting. This is Hernandez’s first semester at Skyline College he is learning to be more proficient in the English language and is also excited by learning how to use computers again. Hernandez is impressed with The Learning Center as there isn’t really anything like it in his country Mexico.

“It’s excellent in my country we don’t have that kind of assistance,” Hernandez said.

Andrew Parobok, 2nd semester Skyline student says that he usually uses The Learning Center for the computers but he has used the tutoring services on occasion.

“It helps,” Parobok said. “If you’re in a really bad jam they’ll clarify certain issues.”

Special programs for students with learning disabilities are also available in the Learning Center. Linda Kisich, learning disabilities assistant said they have a lot of new technology available for those students with different learning styles to use. For example, for students with Dyslexia they have special programs that can read the text out loud or highlight pieces of the text.

“Sometimes students know the information, but because of processing differences they might need a little extended time or some kind of accommodation,” Kisich said.

Tutor Coordinator Felix Perez’s primary job is to train the tutors, but he also teaches a class on how to be a successful college student. Perez, along with several of the other instructional aides, leads several workshops on reading, writing and college success skills which take place in The Learning Center on specific dates.

According to Perez, often times student tutors at Skyline will come back to be teachers at the school. Former students will come back as well to visit the place that led them to their success. Peix emphasized Skyline’s learning center as a representation of the schools student-centered approach.

“The overall feeling at Skyline and especially in the learning center is we’re here for the students,” Peix said. “We want them to succeed.”