Tim McGorey retires as leader of Adult Learning Lab

January 5th, 2017
Tim McGorey speaks to students at the Harris Literacy Lab in May 2014.

After leading our Adult Learning Lab since its inception six years ago, and building the program into a premier adult education opportunity, Tim McGorey is retiring.

“Tim’s passionate commitment to meet the unique learning needs of adults, incorporate the arts into education, and nurture the careers of Learning Lab staff has made Southwest Solutions and our community a better place,” said Mary Freeman, director of Workforce Development Programs at Southwest Solutions. “He has established a solid foundation for the Lab as it continues its mission of helping adults develop the skills they need to be more successful.”

When Tim began to organize the Learning Lab, he brought with him nearly 30 years of experience in the field of adult education. He wanted to implement a philosophy at the Lab that emphasized treating participants as equals, honoring their life experience, and facilitating their educational aims through patient and respectful guidance rather than traditional instruction. Tim sought to make the Lab an inviting and supportive place for participants, volunteers and staff alike.

Tim speaks to students at the Adult Learning Lab at an orientation in January 2011.

Tim speaks to students at the Adult Learning Lab at an orientation in January 2011.

“I think it’s important that we meet each student at his or her level within an environment of mutual respect and appreciation where we are all working together,” Tim said. “The most frequent feedback we receive from students is that they enjoy being here, learning with their fellow students, often in groups, and cheering each other on as they strive to achieve their goals.”

The Learning Lab has proven to be successful in helping individuals achieve their GED, improve their skills so they get better jobs, and progress through ESL (English as a Second Language) courses. The Lab, which is located across from Clark Park in southwest Detroit, has expanded to two other locations: the Harris Literacy Lab at Lawndale and Vernor; and the PATH Learning Lab in Redford. The Lab also became an important and integral component of Southwest Solutions’ job training initiatives, including Detroit GreenWorks Solutions, Earn + Learn, and PATH (Partnership. Accountability. Training. Hope.).

Musician and storyteller Robert Jones performs at the Adult Learning Lab.

Musician and storyteller Robert Jones performs at the Adult Learning Lab.

In addition, the Lab has stepped up to serve other community needs, providing workshops on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), immigration law, Detroit’s municipal ID program, and more. The Lab has partnered with Reading Works, Freedom House Detroit, the Dominican Literacy Center, and others to expand opportunities for adults seeking to improve their education and quality of life. The Lab has also partnered with the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) and local artists to connect the creative arts and the joy of learning.

“Students who invest time with us at the Lab show academic growth, and the more they are with us, the more significant the growth,” Tim said. “Sometimes the improvement is not measurable, though it’s still evident as stronger self-confidence and determination. Many of our students are parents and they want to be role models for their children. They want to show their children that it’s important to study and learn to attain a better life.”

Lifelong learning is a core value for Tim. In his retirement, he intends to pursue a traditional folk music preservation and education project. He also intends to write more poetry and travel with his wife.

“I will certainly miss the Learning Lab and Southwest Solutions,” Tim says. “I will miss the students and their extraordinary variety of backgrounds and life stories, from so many different cultures and places. I will miss my colleagues and our shared commitment to make a difference.”

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