Closure of Academy of Learning leaves Montague student out in the cold Friday
By Heather Jordan Ross
When Stephanie Theriault started at the Academy of Learning in March, she was looking forward to making new friends and studying full time to become an administrative assistant by December.
Now after two months of studying one day a week and being the only student left in Montague, her school is closing.
On August 31 the Academy of Learning in Montague will close its doors after being in the town for seven years.
That makes things complicated for Ms Theriault, who doesn’t own a car and is expected to finish her school year in Charlottetown.
“The reason I went to this school is because I lived in walking distance. Now I’m stuck with no vehicle and no school,” Ms Theriault, who has lived in Montague for 10 years, said. Her only options now are to quit school or to move to Charlottetown.
Island franchise owner Don Josey is disappointed he has to close the school, but there just wasn’t enough business.
“Our idea for being in Montague was to save people from travelling. When we went there initially, that’s the way it was,” Mr Josey said. When the school opened they had an average of three employees and 20 students, but last year they had one instructor and four to five students. “I felt we had a nice presence in Montague, but if students are not coming through the door you can’t keep your doors open.”
Kelly Campbell, the last instructor at the school, is not only out of a job but disappointed for the whole community.
“As far as I was concerned they provided courses for the (Kings County) community.” The school offered programs in business, health care and administration. She said the school offered services for all ages and graduates were more confident. “We had people from right out of high school to 50s and 60s.”
She said she doesn’t know what it would take to have the school stay open, but she did still have students attending. Two students will have to continue their education in Charlottetown.
As for Ms Campbell, she said she is considering her options.
Ms Theriault is considering her options as well. This is a far cry from what she expected entering the program.
“I was looking forward to having the school experience and making friends, and I’ve been stuck home all the time without a teacher or any help.” Now she has to decide whether or not to continue.
“I don’t want to quit but it might be my only choice... I’m just disappointed.”
Those involved in the school have different theories about the sudden decline in students.
Mr Josey suspected a more complicated application process scared students off. Previously students applying to the program went through Service Canada, but more recently they’ve had to go through Career Development Services and then Skills PEI.
Ms Campbell said a combination of a bad economy and cuts to funding meant fewer people could afford school, but Ms Theriault said the school just simply wasn’t advertised well enough and few people even knew it was there.