Calhoun leads learning center

Published 10:18 am Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Charlotte County Adult Learning Center has opened the new year with a revitalized vision under the direction of a new director.

Lonnie Calhoun began as director at the start of the year, replacing Mora da Silva, who previously held the position.

“Charlotte County has got some opportunities and challenges, but we’re willing to take them on,” Calhoun said.

Calhoun has a master’s degree in comparative and international education from Columbia University, and serves as vice president of the Prince Edward County United Way. He also serves on the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts Advisory Board. He worked for 15 years at Longwood University.

His wife, Dr. Marian Hahesy-Calhoun, is director of the Charlotte Primary Care Facility.

“We want to create a wellness culture in addition to our basic kind of bread-and-potato program, the literacy, GED, adult education and those sorts of things,” Calhoun said.

Calhoun said he would like to add health and wellness literacy programs, as well as programming to teach family literacy to the center’s offerings.

“Literacy is a part of our vision and mission, and so we don’t have a narrow definition of literacy,” he said.

The center held its annual open house Jan. 17 from 4-5:30 p.m. to encourage the community to become involved with offered programs.

“We hold this event each year because it is the official start of our classes for the new year,” said Program Manager Jessica Moorefield.

The center offers a variety of classes including GED preparation, literacy, computer, numeracy and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). 

Moorefield said the center received 22 visitors during the event, indicating the larger crowd than expected.

“This year’s open house was a great time for students, volunteers, staff and community members to come together, celebrate our 2015-16 school year and look forward to the latter end of our 2016-17 school year,” Moorefield said.

This year, the center wants to increase student and volunteer recruitment. “Charlotte County can expect to see more types of classes held at the center to increase community involvement,” Moorefield said.

“Lonnie will hold a Tai Chi class coming soon and we always encourage the community to let us know what they would like to see,” she said.

Calhoun said the class will be offered twice a month on Thursday evenings. Calhoun has experience teaching Tai Chi classes as an instructor at the YMCA, Piedmont Senior Resources and Centra Pace.

Calhoun said he would like to also add a Zumba class.

“We’re doing a lot of different things, but we want to definitely boost our core programs … and then identify those areas that may be lacking or not available in our community,” said Calhoun.

He said funding is both a short-term and a long-term goal. The learning center is going to start fundraising and identifying grants along with partners in the community who want to see an educated population.

Calhoun said the center accepts in-kind donations.

“Technology is always big. If anybody’s got a laptop … that they’d want to donate, we’d take that,” he said.

The learning center was founded in October 1986 “with the mission to help illiterate adults in Charlotte County … and surrounding areas learn to read,” center leaders said on their website.

The center offers classes sponsored by Southside Virginia Community College including basic computer literacy, writing, money management, health literacy and public speaking.

There is a used bookstore on site where guests can shop for a variety of books.

“One of our mottos is we want to offer people a hand up … rather than a hand out,” Calhoun said.

For more information about the learning center, visit or call (434) 542-5782.