6 posts categorized "Education"


Friday Night Computer Class Empowers Students

Nine students recently completed an eight-week course teaching not only basic computer skills, but also helping the students improve their typing, analyze problems, and share their knowledge. The class helped develop critical thinking and allowed students to use computers to write about their new skills, create email accounts, learn about operating systems, organize their desktop with Microsoft Office, and use the Internet.

“Results were good,” one student, Jorge Martínez, said. “These classes have contributed to my improved computing skills. Now, I am more dependent on myself.”

Alicia Olvera said, “I did not know what the USB is; now I can save my files in there.” Both students attended all classes during the course.

“In the beginning as in the ending, we were like a family that shared smiles, happiness, and frustration,” commented instructor Jerardo Martinez. 


La Luz ESL Students are EMPOWERED!!


Forty-six students from three different English language classes held at La Luz Center and off site classes at El Verano School received certificates for having successfully completed the course and taking the competency Ventures test during Fall Semester 2012.

The emotional awards ceremony was attended by students, their spouses and children, community leaders, La Luz board members and volunteers, and major supporters representing the Todd Trust of the Community Foundation Sonoma County.

 It was truly a family-community celebration, and the graduates were energized, proud, and empowered.

Students were commended for having finished the semester and for taking the end of semester competency Ventures test, as well as a few students from each class with perfect or near-perfect attendance.  Many volunteers come every week—some come twice—for two hours, to practice conversation and provide individual help.

Why are so many students dedicated to attend these classes?  --To prepare for better jobs, to help their children with homework, to take a more active role in their community, to set an example for their families… 

 “The students were very happy, they were filled with pride,” said Maricarmen Reyes-Larios, who oversees the classes and knows every student by name. When developing the program, La Luz strived to make the classes easily accessible for students. The cost was just $25 for the semester.  During morning sessions, low cost childcare was provided to ensure students with kids could still attend class.

 The registration date for Spring Semester will be on January 8, 2013. For more information on class schedule and registration time please call 707-938-5131. 


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.


Computer Classes -- a Valuable Tool!

La Luz Center’s Computer Classes are offered in Spanish at the basic and intermediate level.

Due to high interest and popularity, an intermediate level was added in August 2011. 

Currently the basic level class runs on Tuesday-Thursday and the intermediate level class on Monday-Wednesday, both from 6:00pm-7:30pm on their given day.

The basic class leads students from desktop, word processing, digital pictures, internet, web search, browsing, and most importantly parental controls. On a second level the intermediate class introduces social networks and cloud computing, essential security and maintenance, as well as software installation.

“We have been lucky to have the most caring and high skilled computer instructor. Our Computer Program Instructor Daniel Pignataro is just an incredible human being and outstanding teacher” stated Maricarmen Reyes Coordinator of Educational Programs.

Daniel stated “One thing that I’ve learned from my teaching experience is the eagerness and motivation that students have. These classes are always popular, and people come for a variety of reasons:  basic computer skills, don’t have a computer at home, or just need advice on how to choose the much desired first computer. Many students are particularly excited to learn email and social networks such as facebook so they can communicate with their families in Mexico or other Latin American countries.”


After taking the computer classes at La Luz, Ignacio gained the skills and confidence he needed to start experimenting with video editing software. What started as a hobby, has now become part of his business filming weddings and other events. 


Having a middle-school child, a computer and internet connection is a formula that can present challenges to parents. Pola took the advanced computer class at La Luz and learned about computer parental controls, internet safety and social networks. These skills will help Pola better monitor Internet usage at home. 

For more information about the computer class or to sign up please contact La Luz Center at 707-938-5131.



English Classes in Full Swing


Many new students have enrolled in morning English language classes provided by Sonoma Valley Adult School, starting in on their New Year’s resolutions.  There are many levels of instruction going on simultaneously in Booker Hall every Tuesday and Thursday morning, and instructor Kate Willmers makes good use of her five volunteer aides so small groups can learn together and practice their English.  Paulette Ross evening instructor enjoys a more intimate class with a smaller class size of 12 students.

There are 40 students enrolled now, and they carefully juggle their jobs, family responsibilities, and transportation issues to be present twice a week. 

Moises, who has lived in Sonoma for 16 years and works in landscape maintenance, has returned to English classes because, as he says, “Now I have a goal” —to study Landscape Design and start his own company.   He has a steady job and a family, and has now made a commitment to perfect his English.

Berenice, his wife, works as a house cleaner.  She took La Luz classes 12 years ago, but couldn’t fit it in once she had her children.   Now, she too has resumed her studies with a goal:  she wants to be able to communicate with her children’s teachers and be more active in their schools.  “We always listen to the TV news and movies in English,” she says.  “We try to learn at home.  But we need to invite more Latinos to come here.  I was translating for a friend, but then I told her she needed to go to La Luz.   She got a little mad at me!” Nonetheless, this is why it is tremendously important to support and encourage the student that by setting short term goals they can learn English and that is what do here at La Luz Center “states Maricarmen Reyes  La Luz Center Coordinator of Educational Programs.

“One big roadblock we have to overcome, once we find the extra time to come here, is the vulnerability we feel in exposing our lack of English skills,” she explains.  “We are afraid people will laugh at our mistakes even though we know they aren’t meaning to make fun of us.  I think it’s probably a cultural thing, but we need to get over it!” 

In addition at La Luz Center we believe in complimenting  the ESL program with an enriched child care for parents while learning English. The “ Little English Learners” program supports parents access to ESL classes, parents are then able to focus on their goals in learning English besides providing a preschool environment to children whose parents may not have the ability to introduce them to a preschool before kindergarten.

For more information about ESL classes please call 707-938-5131 or email to maricarmen@laluzcenter.org


Upcoming Forum: Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Online flyer 2 La Luz Center will present a public forum, conducted in Spanish, on drug and alcohol abuse on Monday, April 4th 2011.  A panel comprised of representatives from Social Advocates for Youth (SAY), AlAnon, and Alcoholics Anonymous will address various issues related to drug and alcohol abuse in both teens and adults.  Panelists will discuss topics including how and where teens obtain alcohol, the Social Host Ordinance, signs someone is suffering from an addiction, options for recovery, and resources for friends and family members of alcohol/drug abusers.  The presentation will begin at 7:00pm, with snacks and coffee served at 6:45.  For any questions, please contact Rosie Mottsmith at (707) 938-5131 x.101.

El Centro La Luz presentará un foro público en español sobre el abuso de las drogas y del alcohol el lunes 4 de abril del 2011.  Representates de Social Advocates for Youth (SAY), Al Anon, y Alcóholicos Anónimos hablarán sobre cómo reconocer si alguien tiene un problema con el abuso, recursos para amigos y familiares, donde pueden los adolocentes obtener a las drogas y el alcohol, y mucho más.  La presentación se llevará a cabo a las 7:00 de la noche, empezando con botanitas y café a las 6:45.  Para más información, llame a Rosie al (707) 938-5131 x101.

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17560 Greger Street

Sonoma, CA 95476


Mon-Thu 9am-5pm

Fri 9am-4pm