ESL Clases Stay in Sonoma Valley

When the Sonoma Valley Adult School lost its funding last spring, La Luz Center immediately stepped in and applied for a grant to continue the English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for Sonoma Valley residents.  The La Luz Center received a $71,000  grant from the Todd Trust - part of the Sonoma County Community Foundation - to continue these crucial classes for the next two semesters.   With the collaboration of Sonoma Valley Unified School District through Principal Maite Iturri, La Luz Center partnered with El Verano School to host two of the ESL evening classes. 

Through the generosity of our major donors, morning classes will also continue at Booker Hall.   Fortunately, the La Luz Center was able to hire back several of the experienced teachers who had had been working with the Adult School and were already familiar with the curriculum.

Maricarmen Reyes Larios, Coordinator of Educational Programs and Leadership at La Luz Center, has been instrumental in organizing all the classes. According to Maricarmen,   “Our mission is to make sure we provide the tools so the students can become active participants who will help shape the economic, cultural and social aspects of our community.”

La Luz Center intern, Rachael Meyn, from the American University in Washington D.C. will also administer a needs assessment for the ESL students. This study will ensure that their basic needs (food, shelter and health) are met in order to create a stable environment for learning that will encourage students to stay with the course, in addition to helping La Luz obtain statistics for current and potential educational grants.

La Luz Center is devoted to offering courses to our community at little or no cost.  All classes began on September 18th and cost only $25 per student per semester.  There has been a great demand for ESL.  Two evening classes meet at El Verano School on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings  for beginner - high intermediate.  Morning classes are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Booker Hall at La Luz for the beginning to high-intermediate as well, and child care is available for participating parents at low monthly cost of $5 per child.

Although the classes are currently filled to capacity, thanks to our generous donors there will be another semester beginning the second week of January.  La Luz Center is also looking for ESL volunteer tutors who can assist students with English lessons and how to use the ESL textbook. If anyone is interested in volunteering, please call 707-938-5131 Ext. 106 or at volunteer@laluzcenter.org.

“Education is a major part of our mission statement and thus we aim to empower our community through education that leads to self advocacy and leadership in their family and in the community.” states Juan Hernandez III, the new Executive Director at the La Luz Center.   “We are delighted that our community members will continue to be able to attend classes in a convenient location and learn basic language skills that will be crucial to their success.”

La Luz is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting our Sonoma Valley neighbors, who contribute to the economic, cultural and social well being of our community. La Luz provides English language training, teaches computer skills, distributes food, hosts medical services, offers crisis counseling, and supports events that celebrate the richness of our multicultural community.

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