When Everest College shut its doors in February of this year, the future of its students was up in the air. For a large number of these students, Algonquin became a source of comfort while the Ministry of Education collectively sat on its hands.
Immediately following the closure of Everest, Algonquin’s president Cheryl Jensen got the word out to her faculty that Everest had closed, and she instructed them to do all they could for any and all students who approached Algonquin.
“My initial reaction is always to think about the students who were placed in that difficult situation,” said Jensen. “I told my staff that Algonquin is to be there to support these people, and they are to do everything they can to help out.”
The length that the Algonquin staff went to in order to make these students feel comfortable was absolutely astounding.
“I spoke with Janice Pryce and in our conversations she made me feel so relaxed and taken care of,” said Christine Renaud, the mother of an Everest student. “It was to the point that I was in tears, she literally had me in tears.”
Janice Pryce, a recruitment officer at Algonquin, was the one who helped Renaud, and for the most part was the medium between Everest students and the services Algonquin was offering.
“We spoke with over 200 students,” said Pryce. “We really wanted to reach out and let them know that we would help in any way we could.”
Help for Everest students came mostly in the form of advice, and just basic information that the Ministry of Education was failing to provide to them.
The Ministry of Education was extremely ill-prepared when it came to dealing with the distraught students and their failure to provide accurate information quickly frustrated anyone who was relying on them.
“I went to the meeting on the Thursday because there was a ministry person there, but he wasn’t prepared and just read from documents,” said Renaud. “They didn’t even bring enough info packets or chairs for everyone, so if you were in the back you couldn’t even see. I don’t know what pissed me off more, the school or the ministry.”
Although Algonquin was the only school offering help to Everest students, the ministry only allowed one program to be transferred over into the school’s care.
Jensen wishes that Algonquin would have been able to take them all in.
“With the number of programs we have here, I wanted to see what we had to do to get these students to continue their education with us,” said Jensen.
The ministry appointed six other schools from Ontario to accept Everest students, this is being seen as ludicrous considering all that Algonquin did for students in need.
“The ministry has fixed the situation for my son,” said Renaud. “The unfortunate part is that he won’t be learning at Algonquin.”
Students from Everest’s early childhood assistant program will be transferring over to Algonquin’s early childhood education program in the fall. The ECA program is only a year long, and applicants will have to make up for any credits that were not earned in their year at Everest.
“The only school who did anything is the one not being included,” said Renaud.