Cristhian Barcelos can relate to the students he serves as Director of the New Community Adult Learning Center. He was in their shoes in 2001 when he was a student taking English classes at New Community. From there, he became a volunteer, a computer teacher and ultimately director.
In his current role, Barcelos oversees the Adult Learning Center, which offers educational programs to individuals who are 16 and older and out of the school system. Courses include English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Adult Basic Education (ABE), Pre-High School Equivalency (HSE), HSE, Computers and Citizenship. Day, evening and Saturday classes are available for students.
In addition to the classes, the Adult Learning Center invites outside agencies to provide services for students, including vaccinations, eye exams and nutrition programs.
“Any and every program that we can get our hands on that is willing to come and do their services here, we coordinate that,” Barcelos said.
Adult education is important to Barcelos since he utilized those services when he came to the United States in 2001 from Uruguay. Although he knew some English when he arrived, he needed to become more proficient and heard about New Community’s program. He enrolled and after he finished taking classes, he began volunteering at the end of 2002 because NCC’s mission statement resonated with him. He later became an instructor, teaching Microsoft Office to students, and eventually took over as director.
Barcelos’ favorite part of his job is watching students achieve their goals.
“You find those that need the help and are open to being helped and you see them moving through the different steps,” he said. “That makes my day.”
Barcelos’ commitment to the students and New Community’s mission shines through.
“Cristhian is a passionate director who cares about the Adult Learning Center’s participants, its staff and the program’s results,” said New Community Chief Operating Officer Fred Hunter.
In addition to his work with the Adult Learning Center, Barcelos also serves as Executive Director of Literacy Volunteers of America, Essex and Passaic Counties and as President of New Jersey Association for Lifelong Learning.
He has always had a busy work schedule. In his home country of Uruguay, Barcelos managed a modeling agency that required much more than a 40-hour workweek. He decided to leave that life behind and joined his father in the United States before moving into his own attic apartment after nine months.
Barcelos now owns a home in Belleville and enjoys working with his hands in his spare time. He likes to grow bonsai trees and creates intricate wood carvings, many depicting birds.