The adult students in a special program gathered for an informal picnic and ceremony at the T.W. Patterson Sports Park marking the completion of a year of studies.
Classes were conducted at Grayson Charter School in Westley and at Northmead Elementary School in Patterson with teachers taking signups at the beginning of the school year.
The adults, whose first language is Spanish, completed the Adult English As a Second Language Literacy Program held from September 2013 to May 2014, sharpening their skills in reading, speaking, listening and writing in English.
“It really has been such a fantastic and inspiring experience,” teacher Denise Sullivan said.
The school district used leftover funds from the $800,000 Toyota Literacy Grant established here six years ago. Toyota established the grant to develop and implement comprehensive family literacy services for Hispanic families in the district, and the district added its own money to the program to carry it forward year-to-year.
Sullivan said the literacy program is also now an important part of the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) presented to the state for school funding.
“Parent engagement is a large component of the LCAP, and the family literacy program has provided great results and opportunities for our families,” Sullivan said. “We have over 70 community members participating, representing over 100 students.”
Participants learn a variety of tasks beginning with letters of the alphabet and following up on everyday conversations, such as how to make doctor appointments and ask question of their child’s teacher or principal. This builds confidence, and in turn the program helps increase students’ academic achievements.
Organizers say when a family literacy program takes root, the parents become advocates for not only themselves but for their child’s literacy.
Parents can also connect with community resources and find opportunities to develop a support system for themselves and their families.
“It’s really how they can be more independent,” Sandy Luna, parent liaison for the district, said.
Sullivan added that when the adults learn to speak, write, listen and read in English, they have more resources for moving on and furthering their education.
“This encourages them to keep going and maybe even go to college to get their GED,” Sullivan said. “This is very important for the community to know about. It’s helping them a lot.”
Contact Maddy Houk at 892-6187, ext. 22, or email@example.com.