Success stories highlight Community Education programs' impact
The many testimonies that students wrote and shared with their teachers speak volumes of the lasting impact the meaningful Community Education programs, particularly ESL, GED, and Citizenship, have in the community.
Erika Garcia defied all odds -- moving to the U.S. from Mexico in 2000 and not knowing how to speak English -- when she received her GED certificate in November 2013. A returning ESL student in 2007, she enrolled to learn basic English and parenting skills, and she signed up for the Spanish GED preparation class. "The AEFL program at District 214 helped me a lot," she said. "I feel better about myself and I’m very thankful to all my teachers." Garcia has moved on to enrolling in the Power Reading class, an advanced class, and considers "speaking and writing English well" as her new goal.
Yoshiko Takahashi from Japan considers the ESL program a "sanctuary where vulnerable students are able to feel safe." She said ESL students are sometimes hurt by a failure of communicating in English or tired of struggling with using developing English skills in the American community. "I think that Community Education is already a sanctuary for me," she adds. "I appreciate my teachers and the warm welcome." Her sentiment was echoed by Tomoko Miyamoto, who is originally from Japan; Bertha Bravo, who is from Mexico; and Reyna Segovia, who is from El Salvador.
And then there’s Ana Velasquez who first came to Community Education via The Catherine M. Lee Women’s & Children’s Center in 2002. She went through the rigors of learning English through the ESL program and took advantage of what the center offers: employability skills and computer literacy, among others. Fast forward to now, Ana is a notary public and owns her own business, VG Multiservices, which provides money orders, faxing, photocopies, bill pay in the USA and Mexico, and notary public services.