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By Rosalind Marshall
Special to The SUN
The classrooms may have moved, but adult education through the Archuleta County Education Center is alive and well in Pagosa Springs.
ACEC continues to offer GED and ESL instruction to adults in the community, but no longer at the little blue building on 4th and Lewis streets.
GED is now housed at the Ruby Sisson Memorial Library, where space has been generously donated for one-on-one instruction. Mark Wardell is available for GED test preparation and adult secondary education, Monday through Wednesday, 2-6 p.m., and Thursday 2-7:30 p.m. Registration is $15 to cover administrative costs.
ESL has been given a new home at Community United Methodist Church, 434 Lewis St. Pastor Don Ford, the church committee and staff have graciously made space in Room 203 for English instruction to adult speakers of other languages. Child care is available at no cost for both programs at the Methodist Church nursery, Tuesday 5-7 p.m. and Thursday 5-7:30 p.m., for adult students with young children.
The need for English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in Archuleta County is particularly high because of our historic ties with Mexico. With Federal funding from the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA), passed in 1962, the Colorado Department of Education has allocated funding for Archuleta County Education Center to offer ESL for over 15 years. ESL programs supported by AEFLA must adhere to strict State and Federal guidelines, including standardized tests. The system is based on competencies, which encompass more than 300 essential life skills. People need these skills to be successful members of communities and the workforce. Test performance measures improvement in individual’s progress over time.
Although most students are Spanish speakers, we have had students from Ukraine, Thailand, China, France, Germany and Russia. The goal for our ESL program is to provide basic instruction in English, emphasizing our customs and culture. Conversation, reading and writing in English are covered in the classes, and Geography, Math and American History are often incorporated. Success in the ESL program leads to improved job skills and opportunities, integration into the local community, and clearer communication with health care providers, teachers and local agencies.
Some ESL students have a goal of improving their employability or getting a higher level job, some transfer into our GED program after reaching the higher levels of English, and many want to become more involved with their children’s education. Parent students in the ESL class are great role models for their children, and learning becomes a family goal. Some of our higher-level students have degrees in their native country, and act as mentors for the lower-level students.
There are two highly-qualified instructors with years of experience with ESL students. Susan Lawrence teaches ESL to middle school and high school students in the school district. Rosalind Marshall, an immigrant from Great Britain, returns for her fifth year of ESL instruction with ACEC.
If you know someone who needs to learn English as a new language, you can do them and our community a good service by suggesting that they enroll in ESL classes. These classes are offered 5-7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The ESL school year follows the school district calendar. There is a $15 annual registration fee, but all other materials and supplies are free.
For more information, visit the website at www.ArchuletaCountyEducationCenter.com, where you can register for all classes and pay with PayPal, or just come to the class and register there. You can also call 264-2835 for more information.