A Brief History of DALC


High school counselor Ev Graves organizes Dover’s first Adult Basic Education (ABE) classes at Dover High School (product of 1966 federal Adult Education Act).  Irene Duffy starts daytime program at First Parish Church, childcare provided.


Helen Phipps appointed director. Evening program moves to Dover Junior High. The Dover daytime program is honored with an award from the U.S. Secretary of Education as the most innovative in Region I (New England and New York). Dover Adult Learning Center incorporated as a private non-profit organization. Teen program started for the many youths who have been attending ABE classes.  The first industrial GED class meets on-site at Davidson Rubber Company. Helen Phipps becomes Community Education Director, to include community education program as well as for ABE. Adult diploma and vocational classes initiated. Spring-First adult high school diplomas granted.  Fall-The Former Advent Christian Church, 22 Atkinson Street is purchased by the city with federal funds, turned over to the center for a dollar.


First Certified Nursing Assistant classes added to the vocational training program. Debbie Tasker appointed as Executive Director. Displaced Homemaker program initiated, support groups and job search skills classes. First GED class at Strafford County Jail. Severe local funding cuts secretary and the teen program. Successful fund-raising drive keeps the Center open. ESOL grows, becomes NH’s largest program, many refugees from Southeast Asia. Board of Directors sells the former parish house, committing the proceeds to investments to support operating expenses. Fall-Adult Tutorial Program moves to the Center, provides volunteer tutors for ABE. The Center partners with the DHS Vocational Center to offer customized adult job training. Adult Tutorial Program expands to serve all of Strafford County. The Center develops a Teen Access program for pregnant and parent teens. It becomes a successful pilot project for the NH Division of Employment Security. Vocational Educational Support Program for out-of-school youth launched. The U.S. Secretary of Education recognizes the ABE program as the outstanding adult education program in Region One and one of six outstanding programs in the nation, commends DALC for “Excellence in Adult Education.” First In Our Own Words published; the Center becomes an official GED testing center.


New skills classes for JOBS clients referred by Human Services; GED classes on-site at Davidson-Textron; HIV awareness is offered; enrollment up 25%. First Strafford County funding; ABE begins in Rochester; 246 graduates (largest graduating class in county). DALC becomes “Dover Adult Learning Center, Serving Strafford County.” Basic skills classes begin in Milton & Farmington; funding received for class at Mineral/Whittier Park in Dover Housing Authority community center. Dover receives an Even Start family literacy grant with DALC as the adult education partner. DALC joins the Dover Chamber of Commerce. 25th Anniversary! Staff completes Real Life curriculum study with NH Charitable Foundation grant. DALC Board completes 5-year strategic plan. DALC celebrates 25 years, endows Helen Phipps/Debbie Tasker scholarship. ABE selected as national test site for Equipped for the Future. Outreach counselor added for offsite basic skills class. Technology plan developed.

ABE program a finalist for national award from Secretary of Education.


Nellie Mae Foundation grant to help students transition to college. ABE staff develops health curriculum. Jim Verschueren appointed Executive Director. Total of 335 GED graduate’s sets new record; computer lab created with funding from Verizon. Extensive building renovations completed, with Dover CDBG funds and help from TyCom, Inc. 30th Anniversary! Celebrations include a well-attended public open house, an American Cancer Society Relay Walk for Life Team, a mini-golf tournament, a series of student profiles in Foster’s, a new “Friends of the Center” membership organization, and an Adopt-A-Spot in Dover. Workforce Development initiative creates first set of employer on-site trainings and classes. CDBG funding for McConnell Center renovation. ABE classes and collaborative Explore! program launch in Farmington. Yard sale fundraiser begins. Move to McConnell Center endorsed by city council. DALC is a founding sponsor of Rotary Club bears. DALC Board of Directors launch Come Help Us Grow to raise $100,000. Moved Rochester site to First Congregational Church (August); McConnell move completed (December). First programs in the McConnell Community Center (January). New collaborations with other McConnell tenants. Board adopts Strategic Plan. First Poker Room at Seabrook. Senior Counselor Donna McAdams retires after 30+ years. Deanna Strand appointed Executive Director. Come Help Us Grow reaches $97,000+; seven rooms named for generous donors:  TD Charitable Foundation, Joe B. Parks,  Deborah Shelton & Mark Thomas, The Pentair Foundation,  Kathryn Parks Forbes, The Verschueren Family, Jack & Judy Mettee.


Come Help Us Grow! reaches goal of $100,000. Helen Phipps Heritage Society established. Largest donation received in history of DALC from Lonza Biologics in amount of $31,172.48. 40th Anniversary of DALC celebrated with first ever silent auction gala, Opening Doors to Opportunity. Board completes 5-year strategic plan. Dottie Holmes retires after 23 years.  Local funding threatened by school budget cuts. DALC Board adopts three-year strategic plan. Enrollment across all programs tops 4,000. HiSET replaces GED in NH. DALC partners with Great Bay Community College to offer developmental college classes in AHS program. High school credentials awarded since 1968 exceeds 7,000. College Success Partnership launched with Great Bay Community College. Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) replaces WIA. DALC partners with Rochester School District to bring ESOL classes with childcare to Rochester. ESOL program experiences waiting list for first time ever. Andrew Aimesbury scholarship established. Members of Helen Phipps Heritage Society recognized on Gundalow cruise. Board completes strategic goals and extends plan one year. Andrew Aimesbury’s family raised nearly $20,000 to fund the scholarship. A $2,000 award was given. DALC awarded contract under WIOA to continue providing ABE, ALS & ESL programs and to add Integrated Education and Training, Integrated English Language and Civics Education. In 2018, DALC was awarded a New Hampshire Charitable Foundation Community Grant for $30,000 of unrestricted operating funds. A comprehensive strategic planning process was conducted. At the 2019 graduation, $15,000 in scholarships were awarded by the Andrew Aimesbury Memorial Fund. In 2020, DALC completed a new strategic plan and developed a new logo.


In the spring of 2020, the COVID 19 pandemic initiated a pivot to entirely remote instruction. DALC lost three significant members of its community this year:  Debbie Tasker, DALC director for 25 years; Irene Duffy, one of DALC’s founders; and Bev O’Brien, long time Adult Diploma Program Counselor.  They will be missed. The 2020-21 school year was conducted almost entirely remotely due to the ongoing pandemic.