Bridge Program

Bridge Program Prepares Adults for Better Life

There’s one good reason to be hopeful these days: Bridge to Careers in Technology Program, now known as Bridge to Technical Trades. The Bridge Program for short, offered by District 214 Community Education, provides free classes in reading, math and language skills for people who are looking for jobs in manufacturing and technology.

story_2_PC090001_800It is designed for individuals with little knowledge of English, those who read at the 6th-12th grade level, people who plan to pursue a GED or post secondary training either to earn a certification or a college degree.

The 12-week program helps students identify on-the-job work principles, explore careers in manufacturing and technology, and improve their skills needed to get a job.

Kelly Barinholtz, program coordinator, said the class is very student goal-oriented. "By doing so," said Barinholtz, "it allows me to focus on the goals of the students and not just what I have to cover. It takes the pressure off the students and my planning or instruction flows better."

Rhonda Serafin, Adult Education and Family Literacy manager, explained that most of the students in the program are in their 30s and come from different cultures particularly Hispanic, Indian, Pakistani, Polish and Romanian.

Serafin further said that students go through a battery of tests to make sure that obstacles such as child care, transportation issues and other real life situations are removed to give these students the best chance to succeed.

"We keep in touch with our students," Barinholtz added. "We help them with their transition, we fill in the gaps and work with their goals. We care and want to retain as many people as possible." The program according to Barinholtz averages between 15 - 20 enrollees per semester. 

Barinholtz explained that in order to motivate students, grades are not given in the class. "Getting an A is not what they have learned or what they remember the most," she said. "We want our students to take things from the class they think are useful to apply them in the real world."

She related that one of her former students, Pedro Sebastian, was able to land a good job. She said that Sebastian told her the program helped him especially with the reinforcement in math and computer instruction. He also learned the technology in carpentry focusing on computerized programming for measurement and patterns.

According to Barinholtz, another student, Radu Radulescu, expressed his appreciation for learning the correct vocabulary and terminology in expressing solutions in a professional manner through the Bridge Program. 

Although Radulescu’s skills in math were very advanced, Barinholtz said that he is very grateful for the things he learned especially in expressing answers and solutions the American way as there are many differences in the way things are expressed in Romania compared to the U.S. 

Barinholtz added that each student receives a certificate at the end of every semester to recognize his or her achievement. To qualify, please call Barinholtz at (847) 718-7876 or e-mail her at kelly.barinholtz@d214.org.