Connecting people with education: the Glendale Community Learning Center is driven by community

Story and photo by MEG CLASPER

From kindergarten to 12th grade students trudge down the halls of public schools. From class to class, teacher to teacher, students rely on those halls as pathways and safe spaces. Where those halls end, the halls of the Glendale Community Learning Center begin.

Nestled between Mountain View Elementary and Glendale Junior High, the Community Learning Center (CLC), at 138 Navajo St. in Salt Lake City, serves as a community and learning hub for the surrounding neighborhoods and schools. With four classrooms and six kitchens, the CLC creates programming driven by community needs.

Out of these programs, many are focused on helping parents of the community interact with the school system. English as a Second Language classes, also known as ESL classes, help non-English speaking parents communicate with school faculty and staff who may not speak the same language. Other courses provide parents with skills to better engage with teachers and administrators. A weekly meeting, held on Friday mornings, has also been set up for parents to meet directly with faculty and teachers of the schools.

In January 2020, the CLC hosted one session of the “Late Start Listening Tour” put on by the Salt Lake City School District. It allowed the Board of Education to hear community members’ thoughts and concerns about the current school system and a possible late start for high schools.

In addition to encouraging these meetings, the CLC offers classes to community members that are life-skill based. One class, Food Justice, focused on the sharing of cultural and family recipes. Each session emphasised a few common ingredients such as rice and noodles and encouraged attendees to pick recipes using those ingredients.

With collaboration from different community members and students at the University of Utah, these recipes have been compiled in a cookbook titled “Savor: Stories of Community, Culture, and Food.” The book shares the stories of how communities are built around food. This cookbook is sold online and at the CLC.

The CLC’s six kitchens are also open for community use. “You can go in [the kitchens] in the morning and see moms talking over coffee or making smoothies for teachers,” said Jennifer Mayer-Glenn, a previous administrator at the CLC.

Other than skills classes, the center offers courses to help adults prepare for applications and tests. For example, one tutors community members for the citizenship test. And the “Know Your Rights” course was started in 2016 in the middle of a spike in fear about immigration issues. It teaches adults what rights they may not know they have.

With its proximity to the elementary and junior high schools, the CLC is a big part of how both operate. “We consider it as part of our school,” said, Kenneth Limb, principal of Mountain View Elementary, in a phone interview. He works directly with the CLC on a daily basis and said appreciates the programs it offers.


Students receive help with all types of homework in the Learning Lab.

After school, students from the elementary and junior high are able to cross the fields to the doors of the CLC. There they are able to take part in the after-school Learning Lab. Here 60 students connect with volunteers from the University of Utah to receive help with homework. Enriching activities are offered too. Science experiments and other subject-related visuals are planned to help students better grasp the concepts. The Learning Lab also serves as a safe place for students to remain until adult family members are able to pick them up.

In addition to the Learning Lab, the CLC offers courses to help students fill out Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms, apply for scholarships, and fill out college applications. With this help students are able to feel more comfortable when it comes to approaching college. For those who want to move toward the workforce, courses are available to help individuals create resumes and cover letters.

Limb said activities not directly connected to the schools are available to students. While they are able to take sewing and cooking classes, social-skills courses are built to guide students through real-life situations. What youth get out of these courses are knowledge and skills to be able to deal with strangers, ability to work with adults and formally introduce themselves. By helping students interact with the outside world they are better prepared to enter it.

Many events are also planned by the CLC to help connect the community to the schools. According to many posts on the center’s Facebook page, it holds meetings between parents and the Salt Lake City School District, holds back-to-school celebrations for students, and promotes events at East High School.

With both schools and the CLC working together students are made to feel welcome and important when it comes to education. The connection enforces opportunities and the importance of education, no matter what hall students may be in.


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