2018 Learner Award Winners

PGI Literacy Grants

What is the Impact of NSPGI?

History of NSPGI

Peter Gzowski, 1934 - 2002

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An incredible $75,000 was raised at the 2019 NSPGI for Literacy Gala Dinner and Auction for Literacy Nova Scotia on April 30 at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel.

Founded by Peter Gzowski, these valuable funds will provide financial support and referral services to adult learners across Nova Scotia.
Thank you to everyone who helped to make this year’s inaugural gala dinner and auction so memorable – sponsors, prize donors, ticket purchasers, and volunteers. We can’t do it without you!
A very big thank you to our co-chairs Mayor Mike Savage and Chuck Cartmill; Cindy Day, master of ceremonies; Sheree Fitch, poet laureate; Adam Conter, auctioneer; and our PGI musician, Lauren Aucoin.
Congratulations to Al MacPhee, recipient of the Purdy Crawford Literacy Champion Award and to Chuck Cartmill, recipient of the Gzowski Award.
Special congratulations to Learner Achievement Award recipients James MacIsaac and Michael Nicholson.


NSPGI for Literacy Sponsors

P R E S E N T I N G   S P O N S O R

Lockheed Martin

S C H O L A R S H I P   &   B U R S A R Y   S P O N S O R

Stewart McKelvey

L I T E R A C Y   C H A M P I O N S   S P O N S O R S

air canada          scotiabank           TD

P O E T   L A U R E A T E   S P O N S O R


F R I E N D S   O F   L I T E R A C Y   S P O N S O R S

clayton shaw                  Freeman                   

  Seaboard          Sobeys         WM Fares

N S P G I   A C H I E V E M E N T   A W A R D   S P O N S O R S

Nova Learning         Maritime Travel logo

I N K I N D   S P O N S O R S

wildflower           chronicle herald

Congratulations to our 2019 NSPGI Learner Award Winners

We are pleased to announce and congratulate the following winners of the Nova Learning Achievement Award and the Maritime Travel Learner Achievement Award. The awards were presented at the NSPGI for Literacy Gala Dinner and Auction on April 30, 2019.

James MacIsaac

James MacIsaac

James MacIsaac
Maritime Travel Learner Achievement Award Winner

2019 Maritime Travel Learner Achievement Award

James MacIsaac doesn’t drive and lives over 20 miles outside of town, but that doesn’t stop him from getting to class on time at the Antigonish County Adult Learning Association (ACALA). “For the last two years, I have been taking classes at ACALA to get my GED and have also been working on employment skills. By taking these courses, I have learned a lot of things like computer skills and problem-solving with what life throws at you. I have even learned a lot about communication skills so that I can be even more of a people person. My math teacher says that my math skills are ready for me to write the GED Math test. The first time I wrote the GED Math, it was difficult working on the computer. I lost time trying to open and close example screens and I was worried about finishing on time. Now I know my computer skills are better, plus I will be ready to ask for help quicker if I need it.”

“James began our current employability program in September 2018, but he has attended various programs with us since 2015,” says his instructor. “He is also working towards his High School Diploma and has made great strides toward achieving that goal. In the time I’ve known James, he has been very eager to learn and is always willing to try new things. His attendance is excellent, and he’s almost never missed a class. When he did miss a class, it was due to his dedication to his volunteer work at J.J. Carroll House here in Antigonish. Volunteer work is a required part of the employability program, so while he may miss a lesson, it still counts towards his class time. During his time here at ACALA, James has made great improvements in terms of his skills, tech skills, and much more. I can’t think of a more deserving candidate for this Achievement Award.”


“I see improvements in my life,” says James. “Before I took the adult learning course, I didn’t believe in myself. I was put down a lot until I had a chance to show myself what I can do. Everyone said I can do it, and now I know I can.” ~ James MacIsaac

Michael Nicholson

Michael Nicholson

Michael Nicholson
Nova Learning Achievement
Award Winner

2019 Nova Learning Achievement Award

Michael Nicholson had difficulties and poor attendance in public school, and dropped out without achieving any high school credits. “In 2003, I took a GED test and passed. I thought this would be enough for an education credential, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.”

Many years later, Michael started repairing cell phones and computers mostly as a hobby and wanted to learn more. “I looked into the Electronic Engineering Technician program at NSCC to expand on my ability to repair phones and computers, but I didn’t have the required academic math credit.” Michael paid for a correspondence course in July 2018 and spent many hours looking up information on how to get started. “When it came down to it, I couldn’t get even the first assignment done.”

In November 2018, Michael had an injury and was laid off work. He saw an ad for the Electronic Engineering Technician program at NSCC. He called them, was interviewed, and accepted into the Adult Learning Program. “Since starting ALP, I have already completed grades 11 and 12 academic math and am advancing very quickly in all my other courses. I plan to graduate with honors this semester, and have been accepted into the Electronic Engineering Technician program at NSCC Kingstech starting in the fall.”

“Mike started the Adult Learning Program at NSCC Kingstec in January,” says his teacher Trevor Capern. “He has blown away his instructors with his determination, ability, and progress towards his educational goals. Mike came to us needing all 12 credits to complete his diploma, and when he finishes this year, he will be the first learner in the history of the program to accomplish the feat in such a short time span. I have no doubt that Mike will continue his educational journey and achieve all his goals.”

Michael has been selected as the Valedictorian for the School of Access /School of Trades and Technology graduating class of 2019.


“I decided to make a phone call to NSCC and go in for an interview. This was the best thing I could possibly have done.” ~ Michael Nicholson

NSSAL Community Grants

NEW! 2019 NSSAL Community Grant Application – deadline July 15, 2019

PGI Literacy Grant Activity Report – deadline July 15, 2019

2018 PGI Grant Recipients

2017 PGI Grant Recipients

What is the Impact of NSPGI?

All of the monies raised by NSPGI are used, directly or indirectly, to support adult learners and literacy initiatives province wide. Download the factsheet.

NSPGI Supports Learners
Click on each item to read the testimonials.

  Carson Fraser: 2018 Gary Mason Learner Achievement Award   

2018 NSPGI Literacy Award Winner: Carson Fraser
Gary Mason Learner Achievement Award Winner

Carson Fraser

2018 Gary Mason Learner Achievement Award

“I was always moved to the back of the class where I did not learn to read and write well,” says Carson Fraser. “The teachers didn’t pay hardly any attention to us. Even though we had a hard time reading, the teachers still passed us to the next grade. I can’t remember how old I was when I left school.”

Carson worked at many different jobs in farming, roofing, and paving until he was hired at the YMCA, where he worked for 26 years until they closed. Employers told him he needed more education to get hired again, so he enrolled in adult learning programs at a library. He was nervous but determined. “At first, I was very embarrassed with other people around, but the more classes I went to, the better I felt.”

“Carson is a person who has not given up on his aspirations to learn,” says his instructor. “The focus and effort given to his work is admirable. Carson is a dedicated and hardworking learner, and a positive and caring person who I feel lucky to work with. When we first started to talk about writing for this award, he was overwhelmed and was very unsure if he wanted to do it (and certain he could not do it). Then, as we talked more about it, he said he wanted to give it a try! Then he started talking about his journey and we started writing. I was in admiration of his dedication. To witness his progress has been wonderful, and I wish him all the best as he continues on his learning path.”

Read Carson's NSPGI award acceptance speech      VIDEO

“School is sometimes difficult, but I like to learn, and I want to keep learning.” ~ Carson Fraser

  Mike Harris: 2018 Nova Learning Inc. Nova Scotia Learner Achievement Award   

2018 NSPGI Literacy Award Winner: Mike Harris
Nova Learning Inc. Nova Scotia Learner Achievement Award Winner

Mike Harris

2018 Nova Learning Inc. Nova Scotia Learner Achievement Award

Mike Harris left high school in grade ten when he was seventeen years old. “I left school and went out to work. I got driving fines and was in court a few times.” Mike says six years later, he left work to ‘dig blood worms’, and two years after that – ‘ten years of roofing’.

Then Mike was faced with the challenge of making a new life for himself with a criminal record, no Grade 12, and health problems. “I couldn’t get work anywhere. A change was needed. I started with my driver's licence. I paid my fines and rewrote the test, getting my full license. After that, my teacher Joy Power at Valley Community Learning Association helped me with my GED, and then helped me get a pardon.”

“Things could have turned out differently for Mike,” says his teacher Joy Power, “but he has turned things around and continues to impress me with the dedication he brings to his education and life. After getting his GED, and receiving the pardon, we began working on employment together. I helped him find his current position. He loves it there – it suits his desire to work outdoors - and they love him there as well. The company is in full support of his plan to attend NSCC Kingstec in the Cool Climate Winery program in January.”

“My GED and the pardon are life changing. I have come a long way.” ~ Mike Harris

  Susan Stoney: 2018 Indigenous Learner Achievement Award   

Susan Stoney

Indigenous Learner Award

Susan Stoney was born and lived the first thirty-eight years of her life in Iqaluit. She had a variety of jobs there from doing office work to working as a guide and showing people how to live off the land. She moved to ‘the south’ with her five children in 2012 to seek a better life for herself and her family.

Her instructor says Susan was a wonderful addition to the class at the Valley Community Learning Network. “Susan is a natural teacher and loves to share experiences and crafts from her home. Occasionally she would even bring in food when she received a care package from home and treat classmates and staff to seal, narwhal, and Arctic char.” Recognizing the teaching skills she possessed, VCLA staff helped her develop, promote and offer a workshop for the general public, and she taught a group of community members how to make traditional hand-sewn and lined Inuit mitts known as Puaaluk.

The fact that English was not her first language made the learning challenges even greater, but Susan persisted. After four years she was successful in her goal and completed her GED.

  James Marble-Stock: 2018 First Nations Learner Award   

James Marble-Stock

First Nations Learner Award

James Marble-Stock says he was not able to succeed in the public school system. “I moved around the province a lot so I was frequently missing school. I decided to get my GED and go to NSCC. I returned to school to become a functioning piece of society.”

His instructor at Hants Learning Network Association says what most impressed her about James was how he opened up in a supportive educational environment and began to realize his potential for success. “The change in him as he began to believe more in himself was incredible. He worked exceptionally hard in all subjects and passed all five GED tests the first time he wrote them. James discovered what learning strategies worked for him and then did his best to use those strategies in his studies. James is consistently friendly, kind and supportive toward other learners at our centre.”

James is now enrolled in a two year carpentry program at NSCC. He plans to run his own business which will provide an income.

  Krista Marryatt: 2017 Gary Mason Learner Achievement Award   

Krista Marryatt
Krista Marryatt

Krista Marryatt

2017 Gary Mason Learner Achievement Award

“I was never a good student in high school,” says Krista. “I was more interested in socializing and meeting new friends than I was in going to class. Education wasn't important to me even though I had been preached to my whole life that it is.”

As people Krista knew graduated from college and went on to get good jobs, she became frustrated with her situation. “There I was, stuck on social assistance. I watched everybody I grew up with graduate and move on with their lives, and it really affected me. It made me want to get up and do something for myself. I started with education.” Krista enrolled in the GED program at the Halifax Community Learning Network, and she says it is the best decision she could have made.

“After passing four sections of the GED, I decided to follow my dream of becoming a Veterinary Assistant. I applied for a program and now attend four days a week. We are studying medical terminology which is like learning another language. This time next year I should have my diploma and be a graduate of the Vet Assistant Program.”

Krista’s GED instructor says she is an excellent choice for the Gary Mason Learner Achievement Award. “I can't recommend Krista strongly enough for this award. She truly put in a lot of effort this year and was a great role model to the others in the class in terms of attitude and dedication.”

Read Krista's NSPGI award acceptance speech      VIDEO

“Adult learning finally gave me the tools I need to make my dreams come true. I thank everyone that helped guide me through. The support is amazing! ” ~ Krista Marryatt

  Ryan Perrin: 2017 Nova Learning Inc. Nova Scotia Learner Award   

Ryan Perrin
Ryan Perrin

Ryan Perrin

2017 Nova Learning Inc. Nova Scotia Learner Award

Ryan had just completed grade eight at age 14 when he became ill. “The illness left me with damaged nerves which tell me I'm always in pain. I saw what must have been dozens of doctors over the course of a few years.”

Eventually, Ryan had enough. “I took myself off all medication, learned to cope with the pain on my own, and decided to become a doctor. I've done all this because I want to make sure there's a doctor out there who can help people like myself.”

Ryan attends the Adult Learning Program at Kingstec, and has excelled. “Ryan started in the program by taking graduate math, and his exceptional success at the course gave him the confidence to attempt academic math, which he also successfully completed with a 94%,” says his instructor. “To my knowledge, Ryan is about to become the first ALP student in the province to complete the pre-calculus math course. He has shown tremendous growth during his time in ALP. He has demonstrated outstanding dedication to his studies, and contributes positively to the learning environment by encouraging and supporting his classmates. Ryan has proven to be one of the most capable students I have had the pleasure of teaching in my time at Kingstec.”

“I have done my utmost to earn excellent grades, averaging in the 90's overall”, says Ryan. “The Dalhousie University Bachelor of Medical Sciences program has accepted me for the coming fall school term. It's taken me years to learn to live with pain. Now I hope to help prevent it in others.”

Read Ryan's NSPGI award acceptance speech      VIDEO

"I've done all of this in my pursuit of becoming a doctor for the military, to make sure no one under my care will have to suffer injuries leading to or resulting in chronic pain similar to my own." ~ Ryan Perrin

  Hakim Ibrahim: 2016 Gary Mason Learner Achievement Award   

Hakim Ibrahim
Hakim Ibrahim

Hakim Ibrahim

2016 Gary Mason Learner Achievement Award

Hakim left his family in Sudan due to war there. He travelled through many countries in Africa seeking peace and stability, and eventually arrived in Ghana in 2011 where he spent almost four years in a refugee camp.

After a long process, Hakim was able to immigrate to Nova Scotia in 2015. “I found a job, but faced so many difficulties communicating with people in my workplace that I asked my caseworker about going to school.” Hakim attended the Bedford School for six weeks. “My teacher encouraged me to go to the Cunard Learning Centre. I am now in Level III at Cunard and I am able to understand what people say and respond to them confidently.”

Hakim’s instructor says he is a leader in the classroom and never hesitates to help other classmates when needed. “His positive attitude, academic and social abilities, and his story of success create a combination that will inspire others to strive for higher learning.”

Read Hakim's NSPGI award acceptance speech      VIDEO

“I see many changes in me from when I began school! I believe if we are all educated, the world will be a better place to live! ” ~ Hakim Ibrahim

  E. Dale Reddick: 2016 Nova Learning Inc. Nova Scotia Learner Award  

E Dale Reddick
E. Dale Reddick

E. Dale Reddick

2016 Nova Learning Inc. Nova Scotia Learner Award

Dale left school early for a career as a bus driver for the schoolboard, which he kept for many years. “After transporting generations of kids back and forth from school, I decided that it was me that needed to restart my academic journey.”

Applying and going back to learning was intimidating at first for Dale. “When I left school, there were blackboards, but now there are computers and projection screens. I was older than my fellow classmates and some of my teachers.”

Now that he has successfully completed grade 12, Dale has set his sights on furthering his education and obtaining a trade. “With the years of experience driving that I already have, I plan to take the Heavy Machine Operator’s course.”

Read Dale's NSPGI award acceptance speech      VIDEO

“The sense of pride I have from accomplishing my goal has been a huge confidence boost.” ~ E. Dale Reddick

  Pamala Lynn Pick: 2015 Nova Learning Inc. Nova Scotia Learner Achievement Award   

Pamala Pick
Pamala Lynn Pick

Pamala Lynn Pick

2015 Nova Learning Inc. Nova Scotia Learner Achievement Award
In 2013 Pamala decided to return to her education because she knew it was the only way she could achieve the future she desired. The single mother of two faced the challenge of balancing school with home life; however, her determination and eagerness to learn helped her overcome this challenge.

Pamala will receive her high school diploma in June 2015. She has been accepted into the Community Disability Supports Program at the NSCC Kingstec Campus.

Pamala’s instructor wrote, “After one year, I had instructors from post-secondary programs at the college coming to me telling me that Pam was teaching their students how to write effectively using APA format.”

Read Pamala's NSPGI award acceptance speech      VIDEO

“This experience has changed my life, and I can now walk into a room and hold my head high.” ~ Pamala Lynn Pick

  Rachel Teah: 2015 Nova Scotia Business Inc. Learner Achievement Award   

Rachel Teah
Rachel Teah

Rachel Teah

2015 Nova Scotia Business Inc. Learner Achievement Award
After arriving in Canada from Liberia, Rachel realized that the majority of jobs require at least a high school diploma. Due to the circumstances of Liberia she did not have the support or the financial resources to continue any further than Grade 3 in the Liberian education system.

Rachel is a passionate learner. She is currently enrolled in the Cunard Learning Centre where she is working towards her goal of having a career in the field of accounting. When the EAL program was in jeopardy of being cut she voiced her concern to the local MLA.

“Her dedication to her studies has not only improved her skills but has driven her to become more self-assured as she continues on her learning path,” said Rachel’s tutor.

Read Rachel's NSPGI award acceptance speech      VIDEO

“When I started at the Cunard Learning Centre, it was difficult to understand what I was learning. Writing a simple letter used to be a huge challenge for me, but after a few months of studying, it became much easier.”
~ Rachel Teah

  Todd Kenyon: 2014 Nova Learning Inc. Nova Scotia Learner Award   

Todd Kenyon
Todd Kenyon

Todd Kenyon

2014 Nova Learning Inc. Nova Scotia Learner Award
Todd will receive his high school diploma in June 2014 and has been recognized as the Outstanding Contribution Award recipient within the Adult Learning Program this year.

Todd battled through the obstacles and problems that held him back and is now grateful for the opportunities that returning to school has provided. In September he will enter the Political Studies program at Mount Saint Vincent University.

Todd’s instructor describes him as being the kind of human being you hope every child will grow up to become. “Todd has had countless struggles, but he has tapped into his inner strength and resilience in order to rise up, persevere, and continue moving forward. Not only does Todd have a willingness to learn, but he also supports his fellow students’ learning through countless hours of tutoring, and still excels in all of his seven courses.”

Read Todd's NSPGI award acceptance speech     

“I feel more confident than ever in my abilities as a student and as a leader. I am truly grateful for the opportunities that returning to school has provided.”
~ Todd Kenyon

  Samia Eldik: 2014 Nova Scotia Business Inc. Learner Achievement Award   

Samia Eldik
Samia Eldik

Samia Eldik

2014 Nova Scotia Business Inc. Learner Achievement Award Recipient
In 2003, Samia and her family arrived in Canada from Sudan. After tragically losing her husband, she knew she needed to learn English and gain more skills and knowledge that would lead to employment.

Right from the start, her tutor could see that Samia was a keen, curious and eager learner. “I have rarely had the opportunity to work with a student more driven to succeed. Samia’s commitment and achievement is inspirational.” Her tutor recalls how Samia wanted to learn how to write a letter. “While Samia waited for me to arrive for our session, she made her first attempt at letter writing. The note informed me that she would not be able to meet for our next session because she and her children would be receiving their Canadian Citizenship.”

Read Samia's NSPGI award acceptance speech     

“I am confident that I will achieve my goal of earning my Grade 12 so I can go on to Community College to study to become a homecare worker. I will be successful as long as I keep on trying.” ~ Samia Eldik

NSPGI Supports Programs
Click on each item to read the testimonials.

  PGI Grants Sustain Life-changing Educational Programs at the Adult Learning Association of Cape Breton County   

PGI Grants Sustain Life-changing Educational Programs at the Adult Learning Association of Cape Breton County

Education subsidies for resources and travel can improve the chances that adult learners will obtain employment and provide a better future for themselves and their families.

Adult Learning Association of Cape Breton County (ALACBC) provides free upgrading programs to adults in Sydney, Sydney Mines, New Waterford and Glace Bay. They offer Levels 1 and 2 of the Adult Learning Program, GED preparation and family literacy programs. ALACBC strengthens individuals, families and communities in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality by meeting the needs of adult learners.

PGI Grants have enabled ALACBC to produce and print their annual promotional calendar which features colour photos and stories about their learners. The calendar inspires their learners to continue their learning path and inspires others to do the same. They know that their learning journey stories resonate beyond the classroom and into the wider community. It builds hope and second chances. Wide calendar distribution to community partners and elected officials increases awareness of the programs that ALACBC offers, and means more community members can change their lives by coming back to school.

With infrequent public transit in CBRM, many learners would not be able to obtain the workplace-recognized certifications offered in ALACBC’s Workforce Readiness program without a travel subsidy. PGI Grant funding made it possible for learners outside the Sydney area to travel to workshops via taxi. “With the learner transportation support, we know we don’t have to rely on our own fundraising to get the learners to the programs they need,” says ALACBC Executive Director Karen Blair. “This reduces anxiety and creates confidence in our ability to provide quality programming.”

To ensure that their learners are always prepared for class, staff at ALACBC provide classroom supplies with PGI Grant funding: paper, pens, binders, calculators, USB drives, cartridges and computer headphones.

“With PGI Grants, staff at Adult Learning Association of Cape Breton County have provided enriched learning opportunities in the classroom.”

PGI Grant projects are supported by Literacy Nova Scotia through funding provided by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.     Download as pdf

  PGI Grants Empower Learning at Halifax Community Learning Network   

PGI Grants Empower Learning at Halifax Community Learning Network

Little extras can make a huge difference. Learning organizations that provide transportation, resources and food to the adults in their programs make learning possible, and make the school day less complicated and more enjoyable for everyone.

Halifax Community Learning Network (HCLN) offers free literacy instruction to adults at six locations in HRM. They provide classes for levels I and II of the Adult Learning Program, GED prep, and one-on-one tutoring for adults.

Important resources such as classroom supplies, GED books, easy readers, flash drives, binders, bus tickets, healthy snacks and year-end party treats: these are some of the items that HCLN provides to their learners with PGI Grant funding.

Bus tickets are often necessary for learners who do not qualify for the Halifax Low Income Transit Program, especially during the winter months when slippery sidewalks and ice conditions make walking a challenge. Being able to provide books and classroom resources to learners on fixed incomes can make the difference between someone dropping out or continuing in HCLN programs.

A more recent issue has been food security, or lack thereof. No one learns well on an empty stomach. PGI Grant funding is used at HCLN to buy fresh fruit, granola bars, snacks and treats for learners to eat during the day, and for their families and tutors to enjoy at year-end parties to celebrate another successful year of learning together.

Each year, HCLN produces an annual compilation of stories written by adult learners in their programs and their tutors about the experience of returning to learning. “The launch of our HCLN Yearbook is one of the highlights of the year for our learners. Producing and printing it would not be possible with PGI Grants,” says HCLN Executive Director Denise Morley.

“Seeing their name, pictures and stories in our HCLN Yearbook offers adult learners an incredible sense of pride, accomplishment and encouragement to continue learning.”

PGI Grant projects are supported by Literacy Nova Scotia through funding provided by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.     Download as pdf

  PGI Grants Fund Educational Field Trips at Dartmouth Learning Network   

PGI Grants Fund Educational Field Trips at Dartmouth Learning Network

Teaching outside the classroom gives adult learners the chance to experience learning in different environments and encourages them to access learning resources offered by museums, galleries and heritage centres in their communities.

Dartmouth Learning Network (DLN) offers classes for levels I and II of the Adult Learning Program, GED prep, and one-on-one tutoring for adults. They provide classes to learners onsite and via their elearning platform Moving On Up.

PGI Grants allow DLN to provide educational field trips for their learners. “Opportunities to learn about the culture, heritage and environment of Nova Scotia by exploring the geography and museums in our area would not be possible without our PGI Grant funding,” says DLN Executive Director Alison O’Handley.

In recent years, adult learners at DLN have participated in outdoor field trips to Peggy’s Cove and Victoria Park in Truro. They attended exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and a screening of the film ‘Maude’, experimented with science at the Discovery Centre, and listened to Kluskap legends at the Milbrook Cultural and Heritage Centre. DLN learners explored the tunnels of Citadel Hill and learned about Africentricity at the Delmore Buddy Daye Learning Institute. “Each excursion connects us closer to the world around us and broadens our perspective on what it means to be Nova Scotian,” says O’Handley.

“The instructors and tutors who join us on our educational field trips learn just as much or more than our learners. These trips provide them with inspiration, knowledge, understanding and connections so that they can expand on ideas and concepts learned when we return to the classroom at Dartmouth Learning Network.”

PGI Grant projects are supported by Literacy Nova Scotia through funding provided by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education. Download as pdf

  PGI Grants Support Healthier Ways of Learning at PiCCoLA   

piccola 1
piccola 3
At PiCCoLA, PGI Grants provided funding for a breakfast program for learners (top row), classes on growing food, nutrition, recipes and food security (middle row), materials for yoga classes (bottom row), classroom resources, and learner start up school kits.

PGI Grants Support Healthier Ways of Learning at PiCCoLA

PGI Grants help learners at Pictou County Continuous Learning Association (PiCCoLA) to reduce some of the stress of going back to school as an adult. “It’s not easy focusing on learning when you’re hungry or stressed about supplies,” says a PiCCoLA learner. “It definitely made the decision of coming back to a school setting easier and it makes the thought of continuing with my education a little less stressful.”

With funding from PGI Grants, instructors at PiCCoLA created programs to encourage adult learners to adapt to a healthier way of learning through healthier living. The grants have allowed PiCCoLA learners to focus on improving and maintaining of their health both physically and mentally.

PiCCoLA provides adult learning, essential skills and GED programs in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. They have classes in three locations: Pictou, New Glasgow and Stellarton.

PGI Grants helped PiCCoLA provide learner subsidies for transportation where there is no public transportation system. As a result, many students living in the very rural area of the county are able to attend classes. It also enabled their learners to attend workshops, make appointments to write their GED, and attend Family Literacy workshops with their families.

All learners at PiCCoLA can participate in the morning breakfast program, which is provided with PGI Grants. The learners say that having breakfast provided each school day helps them focus on their work and gives them peace of mind. “The breakfast program allows us to come to school not worried about an empty stomach, and with a mind ready to learn,” says a PiCCoLA learner.

Through a PGI Grant, PiCCoLA learners were able to experience the benefits of growing food. PGI funds were used to purchase hydroponic supplies, seeds, and pots. Each learner planted and cultivated seeds to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs. Students studied nutrition, created recipes and examined environmental and social issues related to food and food security.

PiCCoLA uses PGI funding to purchase not only classroom resources such as novels but also learner start up school kits, so that each learner will be equipped with their own backpack, calculator, planner and flash drive. This ensures that each student is properly prepared for class, and helps reduce low self-esteem issues.

To help students learn how to relax and get rid of stress, PGI funds were used to provide materials for yoga classes. A variety of classes have been planned for both adult learners and PiCCoLA families.

“Providing the basics of Adult Education is what we do,” says PiCCoLA Executive Director Carollynne Nemecek. “PGI Grants allow us to go the extra mile – enhancing the learner experience, giving our PiCCoLA students the opportunity to explore activities otherwise unavailable to them.”

PGI Grant projects are supported by Literacy Nova Scotia through funding provided by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.
Download as pdf

  PGI Grants Support Literacy, Essential Skills and Lifelong Learning Opportunities at GALA  

Gala learners
Learners from Guysborough County Adult Learning Association at the St Mary's Spring Celebration in 2017.

PGI Grants Support Literacy, Essential Skills and Lifelong Learning Opportunities at Guysborough County Adult Learning Association

Adults living in rural areas often require special funding support in order to obtain maximum benefit from the learning programs they are enrolled in.

Guysborough County Adult Learning Association (GALA) provides adult learning, essential skills and GED programs to adults throughout communities in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia. They have 3 physical locations in Guysborough, Canso and Sherbrooke. A 2017 PGI Grant helps GALA deliver the best possible learning programs to adults.

The funding paid for maintenance and upgrades to their 3 computer technology labs, including new software and accessories, learner resources, textbooks, school supplies, online access fees for the internet and a cellphone, printing supplies and paper. Learners can print resumes, certificates and other work-related documents for portfolios and employment applications.

PGI Grants also helped GALA provide learner subsidies for transportation and childcare in areas where there is no public transportation system. “Learning is enhanced by building self-confidence, and by demonstrating that we value our learners and miss them when they don’t attend our programs,” says GALA Executive Director Grail Sangster. “We are able to give gas cards to our learners who would otherwise have to walk more than 3 kilometres to class. We also offer them nutritious snacks, hot meals and free coffee.”

“Our programs are utilized by adults from 19 years to 80+,” says Grail. “Funding from PGI Grants contributes to GALA achieving better learner retention, increased accessibility to technology, and better computer labs, which are essential for learners in our programs to make progress and reach their employment and learning goals.”

PGI Grant projects are supported by Literacy Nova Scotia through funding provided by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

  PGI Grants Enrich Learning at Hants Learning Network Association  

HLNA learners
Learners at Hants Learning Network Association
in Windsor, Nova Scotia.

PGI Grants Enrich Learning at Hants Learning Network Association

A ride to school, up-to-date classroom and IT resources, and healthy meals: these are some of the things that help adult learners succeed.

Hants Learning Network Association (HLNA) in Windsor, Nova Scotia offers daytime and evening classes and one-on-one tutoring for adults enrolled in the Adult Learning Program. HLNA also provides classes and workshops on family literacy, computer literacy, and GED preparation.

HLNA received a 2017 PGI Grant which helps deliver and enrich their learning programs to over 100 adults. “These funds allow us to support learners to attend classes and programs, update our resources, and advertise our programs to attract new learners and volunteers,” says HLNA Executive Director Katharine McCoubrey.

“We are able to help learners get to classes at HLNA thanks to PGI Grants. One of the biggest issues our learners face is that there is no public transportation system in our area. Thanks to PGI Grants, we can partner with our local transportation society, Dial-A-Ride. They believe in the power of education to change lives, and have provided a central downtown location where students can get a ride to and from HLNA at a greatly discounted rate. So far this year, six of our learners have used this service to get to HLNA on a regular basis.”

PGI Grants will help cover the cost of an exciting outing that Katharine and the HLNA practitioners have planned for a group of their learners this year: a trip to the Museum of Natural History in Halifax for the Body Worlds exhibit. “This will be an amazing opportunity for them to learn more about how our bodies work and can be affected by various diseases. The PGI Grant funds will cover admission to the exhibit and lunch for the learners that day.”

HLNA learners enjoy making meals for themselves and others in the programs, and PGI Grants help pay for supplies for them to do so. “We believe that one of the many benefits of healthy eating is that it helps our learners focus in class,” says Katharine. “Our kitchen program teaches learners how to work together to make healthy meals and snacks for everyone here at school, and for themselves at home.”

“We use PGI Grant funding to purchase classroom resources: novels, workbooks, educational software, and online resources. Having this wide variety of recent resources means that learners can learn using materials that are meaningful and relevant to them.” Katharine says having access to new, updated and varied resources is also important for the practitioners who facilitate the learning programs.

HLNA learners produce their own resources, too. They are encouraged to develop their written communications skills and submit their writings for publication in their annual yearbook. The printing costs for the yearbook are covered by the PGI Grant.

With PGI Grants, the staff at HLNA give their adult learners amazing educational supports that make a huge difference!

PGI Grant projects are supported by Literacy Nova Scotia through funding provided by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

  PGI Grants Help Provide Literacy Opportunities at Shelburne County Learning Network  

The Shelburne County Learning Network location in Barrington, Nova Scotia.
SCLN learners
PGI Grants provide funding for resources and hands-on learning opportunities at SCLN.
SCLN museum visit
Learners and practitioners from SCLN enjoyed a visit to the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History on February 21, 2018 thanks to funding from a PGI Grant. Learners' field trip report

PGI Grants Help Provide Literacy Opportunities at Shelburne County Learning Network

Financial support for literacy programming helps make learning happen. It gives program coordinators and practitioners the money to provide extra learning enhancements for the adults in their programs without having to rely on donations.

Shelburne County Learning Network (SCLN) offers free literacy instruction to adults in Barrington and Shelburne, Nova Scotia. They provide Adult Learning Program, GED preparation, computer and work skills classes during the daytime and evenings.

With a 2017 PGI Grant, staff at SCLN have filled gaps in program funding and created learning incentives for adults in their programs. “PGI Grants provide a chance for more hands-on learning opportunities and field trips than we otherwise would be able to provide,” says SCLN Network Coordinator Monica Gosbee.

“We purchased supplies for painting sessions, and covered learners’ transportation costs to classes and field trips. We bought new resources, updated technical equipment and computers, and purchased school supplies for the adults in our programs. We used some of the funding for new outdoor signage to advertise our programs to attract more learners and volunteers.”

“I believe the PGI Grants help our practitioners because the funding covers the extra supports and resources we need, so they can focus on helping our learners succeed,” says Monica. “We are truly grateful for PGI Grants, and we hope they are made available for years to come.”

PGI Grant projects are supported by Literacy Nova Scotia through funding provided by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

  PGI Grants Help Bedford-Sackville Learning Network Learners Achieve Success  

BSLN Paul MacNeil
Bedford Sackville Learning Network coordinator Paul MacNeil and LNS Board member Nancy Thompson.

PGI Grants Help BSLN Learners Achieve Success

Access to technology and computer training helps adult learners gain the essential skills they need for living and working in our digital world.

The Bedford-Sackville Learning Network (BSLN) delivers free literacy classroom instruction, one-on-one tutoring, GED programs and essential skills training to adults who want to improve their reading, writing, math, computer, and essential skills.

BSLN was one of 19 community-based learning organizations in Nova Scotia to receive PGI Grants in 2017 totalling $48,000. With funding from the PGI Grants, BSLN was able to purchase laptop computers, tablets, monitors, printers, software, and other technical components and accessories.

The mission of BSLN is to meet the needs and interests of adults who want to develop the necessary literacy and essential skills which will enable them to eventually achieve suitable employment. “By upgrading our hardware and software, our learners can learn to use the latest IT in our classroom and tutoring programs, and thereby stay competitive in their learning and in the workforce,” says BSLN Network Coordinator Paul MacNeil. “Learners from BSLN will be going on to institutions of higher learning (NSCC) or directly into the workforce where they will encounter the latest IT. We are getting more requests from people who want to improve their IT skills.”

“Our network was also able to purchase new texts and resources for our classroom and our one-to-one tutors, as well as printing supplies, and learners’ supplies such as calculators, pens, pencils and binders. Many of our learners cannot afford to buy these needed items.”

“Our classroom instructor has current, relevant resources and IT which greatly contributes to the success of the learners in our programs,” says MacNeil. “Regular technical upgrades and new software purchases also helps BSLN provide better workshops and professional development events for our literacy tutors.”

“PGI Grants improve the chances of our learners achieving success.”

PGI Grant projects are supported by Literacy Nova Scotia through funding provided by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

  PGI Grants Help CANU Put Balance in Adult Learning  

Joggins Beach
CANU learners explored the Joggins Fossil Cliffs during the 2010 Balance Expo.

PGI Grants Help CANU Put Balance in Adult Learning

What do fossils, Cyrus Eaton, and the Amazing Race have in common?
All three represent innovative learning opportunities that were funded by PGI Grants at the Cumberland Adult Network for Upgrading (CANU) in Amherst, Nova Scotia.

Since 2004, CANU has helped adult learners step out of their comfort zones and learn new skills at their annual Balance Expo, a vital and meaningful learning opportunity funded by PGI Grants. The Expo is a day-long event held each year in various communities throughout Cumberland County. Learners, instructors and volunteers get out of the traditional classroom setting and ‘hit the road’ to activities in other locations. The Expo happens either in the spring or the fall, depending on the availability of the venue and the facilitators, and whatever time of the year works best for the activities planned.

During the 2010 CANU Balance Expo, learners gained new appreciation for an incredible educational resource that is right in their own backyard. They visited the Joggins Fossil Cliffs UNESCO World Heritage Site in Joggins, Nova Scotia. The Joggins site contains the world’s finest examples of fossil records from the Pennsylvanian 'Coal Age' approximately 310 million years ago. In 1852, Sir William Dawson, considered the founder of modern geology, discovered amphibian and reptile tetrapods fossilized in trees preserved in the Joggins cliffs. His discovery is considered pivotal to understanding the origins of all vertebrate life on earth. CANU learners toured the fossil centre and roamed the Joggins beaches on their own geological explorations.

Thinkers Lodge
CANU Balance Expo participants visited The Thinker’s Lodge in Pugwash in September 2013.

2013 CANU Balance Expo participants visited The Thinker’s Lodge in Pugwash, a National Historic Site and formerly the summer home of Cyrus Eaton, the Nova Scotia-born banker, businessman and philanthropist. The Thinker’s Lodge is famous for being the location of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, an international organization founded at the height of the Cold War in the 1950’s to address the possibility of a global nuclear war. The Pugwash Conference is still an annual event at The Thinker’s Lodge, where global experts gather to discuss peaceful conflict resolution. CANU learners toured the Lodge, enjoyed a history lesson, and were thrilled to sit in the very same chairs that Cyrus Eaton and scientists from around the world sat in during the first Pugwash conference in 1957.

Later that same day, CANU’s ‘Amazing Race Pugwash’ helped participants develop their map reading, computer, communication and social skills, and to be more physically active. To prepare for the race, CANU joined Heart&Stroke Walkabout, an initiative of the Heart and Stroke Foundation that encourages Nova Scotians to realize the physical and mental benefits of walking in their communities. Pedometers were purchased for the learners and everyone was encouraged to create an account on walkaboutns.ca where they could record their walking stats. During the race, everyone worked in pairs; each learner was partnered with a learner they had not yet met, and each pair had a map of Pugwash. The object was to follow the map and be the first pair to arrive at the end destination. Everyone enjoyed the amazing race and came away with increased skills, more familiarity with Pugwash and a greater appreciation of simply getting out and walking. Many learners still use their pedometers and login to the walkabout site to record their walking stats. CANU plans to set up walking challenges between adult learning classes, instructors and board members, and this will motivate everyone to stay active.

Special t-shirts sporting graphics and information on CANU are produced each year for Balance Expo participants. Learners, coordinators, instructors, and volunteers all wear the t-shirts, so no there’s no indication of what someone’s position is within the organization or what community they are from. This levels the playing field for everyone, increases the comfort level of those who may feel nervous about participating, and encourages all participants to relate to each other as equals. The t-shirts also help market CANU and its programs; learners become ambassadors for adult learning when they wear the t-shirts around their communities and answer questions about CANU.

CANU learners
Since CANU adult learning programs are only part-time, being together for the entire day of the Balance Expo forges a special social connection among the learners that they would not normally have.

CANU Coordinator Beth Estabrooks and Program Coordinator Catherine Wile say there are many CANU learner success stories they could tell, but when measuring the direct impact that PGI Grants have on adult learners, one story in particular comes to mind. “We had a student who was being tutored one-on-one in Pugwash. She was very isolated, lonely and extremely shy. When she came to the 2011 Balance Expo, she realized that she was not alone, and that there are many people just like her who are striving to improve their education and get their high school diploma. Interacting with the other learners at the Expo helped her discover self-confidence she didn’t know she had. This learner is now continuing her studies in Halifax which is an enormous leap for her, and something she would never have felt able to do a short time ago.”

Beth and Catherine say they would not be able to hold the annual Balance Expo without PGI Grant money, and they make every dollar count when planning this enriching learning experience. CANU adult learning programs are all only part-time, which offers a very limited time frame to go through the curriculum, or to have the learners interact with each other. Being together for the entire day of the Balance Expo forges a special social connection among participants that they would not normally have. The Balance Expo activities enrich the learning opportunities for the adult learners outside the classroom environment.

CANU’s Balance Expo gives adult learners exposure to the rich local history and culture of Cumberland County of which many were unaware. Many Expo participants had never been outside their communities before. Learning outside the classroom helps CANU learners to value their home communities, and also to understand that they are an essential part of something much greater.

  PGI Grants Allow Cunard Learning Centre to Take the Classroom Outdoors  

Learners and instructors from Cunard Learning Centre enjoyed a field trip to Shubenacadie Wildlife Park and Victoria Park in Truro in June 2018. The trip was funded by a PGI Grant.

PGI Grants Allow Cunard Learning Centre to Take the Classroom Outdoors

Educational field trips provide a refreshing change of scenery for learners and instructors.

Cunard Learning Centre is a community-based program in Halifax offering classes for levels I, II and III of the Adult Learning Program. They are a division of the MetroWorks family of programs.

Through a 2017 PGI Grant, staff and students at the Cunard Learning Centre were able to take a trip to the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park and Victoria Park in Truro. At the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park, Cunard’s students saw to a variety of animals that they had never seen before. This provided learning and instructing chances for both staff and students. Some students enjoyed having the chance to share their knowledge of local wildlife with their classmates who are newcomers to Canada. The funding enabled the instructors to include a delicious picnic lunch for everyone.

“Many of Cunard’s students do not get the opportunity to leave the city very often, particularly those who are recent immigrants,” says Cunard Learning Centre instructor Dale Taylor. “This can be for financial, transportation, or other reasons. We are pleased to have been able to offer this real-world experience to our students.”

“I believe getting outside the classroom for experiential learning is valuable,” says Dale. “The staff enjoyed the chance to interact with students outside in this way and build better rapport with their students. This will lead to a better classroom experience for everyone involved. Ideally, planning a field trip early in the school year could do a lot towards building a team environment with all of our staff and students.”

“This was a wonderful year end experience for everyone involved.”

PGI Grant projects are supported by Literacy Nova Scotia through funding provided by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

History of NSPGI

  The PGI in Nova Scotia  

The PGI in Nova Scotia

The PGI Golf Tournaments for Literacy was founded by the late Peter Gzowski of CBC Radio's Morningside. Starting from Peter's commitment in the late 1980's to raise $1 million for literacy across Canada, Today there are PGIs for Literacy across Canada in every province and territory, and the generous supporters have raised more than $13.9 million.

All of the monies raised by the NSPGI are used, directly or indirectly, to support adult learners. On behalf of the nearly 4500 adults in learning programs in Nova Scotia, we thank you for your contribution to the work of Literacy Nova Scotia.

The late Dr. John Savage can be credited with bringing the PGI Golf Tournaments for Literacy to Nova Scotia. The first Nova Scotia Tournament was held at Brightwood Golf Club when he was Mayor of Dartmouth. A few years later Dr. Savage became Premier and one of the first announcements made by his government was the initiation of a community-based literacy program and at the same time the province matched the funds raised at the tournament.

NSPGI has been held throughout the province, from Baddeck to Kentville, from Pictou to St. Margaret's Bay. At each location, hundreds of volunteers have worked hard to make the events the huge success they have become. In addition to the corporate sponsors, many people have supported the events over the years and in many capacities. The Gary Mason Learner Achievement Award and the Nova Learning Inc. Nova Scotia Learner Award are presented each year to two deserving adult learners at NSPGI. It takes work and dedication to make a fundraiser successful and Literacy Nova Scotia is grateful.

  NSPGI Poet Laureates  

NSPGI Poet Laureates

Poetry is another part of the spirit of celebration at the PGIs in Nova Scotia and, in fact, across Canada. As Peter Gzowski put it, “in the days before radio and newspapers, nothing happened until somebody wrote a poem about it.”

And so, since the first PGI in Nova Scotia, the event has had a poet laureate. The poet laureate attends the event and then composes a poem to close it out.

It is, and always has been, the defining moment of the event. It captures the spirit of the day and the cause and, of course, helps capture the joy of reading and writing.

Poems by Our PGI Poet Laureates:

2019: Sheree Fitch

  Photos: NSPGI Over the Years  

Photos: NSPGI Over the Years

2018      2017      2016      2015      2014      2013      2012      2011      2010      2009      2008

Peter Gzowski, 1934 - 2002

Visit The
National PGI Website

Peter Gzowski

Peter Gzowski was a passionate advocate for literacy. He leaves behind him a legacy of support for the cause in the PGI Golf Tournaments for Literacy, that he founded in 1986. He set out to raise $1 million dollars for literacy and raised more than $12 million instead. He is sorely missed by all his friends involved in literacy programs across the country.

"The PGIs bring together so much that matters to me: friends, laughter, poetry, music--all playing to make a better world. Thanks to the thousands of golfers, corporate sponsors and hardworking volunteers, the PGIs have become a network that stretches from sea to sea to, as I am proud to say, sea. We've raised millions of dollars to help people learn to read and write or just make their lives a little better. And we're going to keep on doing it." - Peter Gzowski

The PGI’s for Literacy have evolved to include many other wonderful events besides golf tournaments which stay true to Peter’s intention.

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