An Evening Celebrating Volunteers and Dedicated Learners
Students, volunteers and staff celebrated the completion of eight months of drop-in English class on Thursday, May 30th in our conference room.
The main focus of the evening was on the volunteers, who have made a huge difference in the quality of the English class by helping and interacting with the students. Five volunteers were honored with cards and flowers: Les Simon of Jonesboro, Levi Alley of Steuben, Dorothy Claire and Wayne Smith of Milbridge, and Stephanie Garcia, of Harrington. Two others who volunteered earlier in the year, Amy Dowley of Machiasport and Jenny Robish of Machias, were unable to make it to the celebration. Having the volunteers permitted teachers Robin Lovrien and Kristen Hagemeister to differentiate learning to a very high degree. Students often got personal, individualized instruction because of the presence of these kind community members, who showed up in snow, rain, cold and wind over the winter to help us.
For their persistence, great attendance and progress in learning English, four students were also honored: Silvia Guzman Paine, Maria Santos, and Patricia Garcia, all of Milbridge, and Humberto Garcia (husband of Stephanie) of Harrington. The students received certificates recognizing their work. Before the celebration began, all the students were given small “exit tests” that demonstrated their progress in learning.
The students and staff contributed food, and with spouses and children also present, we had a wonderful party! Ana Blagojevic and Wayne Smith took lots of pictures to record the event.
The drop-in English class was designed to allow great flexibility in accessing English instruction for members of our community, who often have unpredictable work schedules, as well as transportation and child-care challenges. In the class, students engage in games and activities that provide practice in various aspects of English. With many of these activities, student can work at their own level and pace, usually on content of high interest to them. For example, a number of activities were designed to help workers at the Cherrypoint Seafood Products plant learn vocabulary and phrases key to their work.
The activities approach to English also precludes students’ worry about missing class, arriving late or making mistakes in front of others. No one is much concerned about making mistakes in the middle of a competitive Go Fish game or board game practicing the use of do/does in questions! Another aspect of this approach that students liked is that it is very social. A lot of talking and laughing goes on because the games and activities are very informal.
Drop-in English will be offered again twice a week in the evening starting in mid-September. In the meantime, the Adult Education Program staff (Robin and Kristen) will be making efforts to connect with students who wish to continue with English study over the summer.