Three students working on improving reading, writing and math skills as they aim toward college; two working on English to get driver’s licenses; one working on preparing for the GRE and a post –graduate degree; two wanting help with the questions for citizenship; two wanting to be able to communicate better with employers and clients in their painting work; one working on the most basic English to catch up with the rest of her family, who all speak English, and to get a job; one working on her English to improve her skills as a salesperson; one preparing for a summer job in high-end housecleaning on MDI; one mother working on her English just because it is time—this is the new and blooming face of adult education at Mano en Mano!
Last December, Director Ian Yaffe and former Adult Education Director, Dr. Robin Lovrien, faced the reality that the class format for adult education was just not working. Though the previous year had seen moderate success, in the fall of 2013, hardly any students were coming to take advantage of expert instruction and free classes. A little investigation revealed that the class format was just not the right thing for the community members, so at the suggestion of board member Charlie Harrington, Yaffe and Lovrien hatched up a new format: individual tutoring for students.
In this new approach, adult students apply to Mano en Mano for a scholarship to study with Dr. Lovrien, who contracts independently with the students. The students must commit to a specific learning goal and agree to set up and maintain a meeting schedule. Learning goals are related to need for English support of some kind. Students typically meet with Dr. Lovrien twice a week. While most meetings are at Mano en Mano, Dr. Lovrien travels to Machias and to Ellsworth to meet with students, too. Sometimes she goes to students’ homes in the Milbridge area, as well. Students are able to schedule meetings at times that are convenient for them. For those with specific learning goals, such as getting admitted to UMM or getting a driver’s license, the contract is closed when the goal is met. Students with longer term needs can continue for longer periods of time.
Dr. Lovrien reports that this new format so far is highly successful. Students come regularly, work hard and make clear progress. This format of teaching assures that, as can be seen from the list above of the fourteen current students, the widest range of student levels and needs can be accommodated. Dr. Lovrien says that although she misses the fun and camaraderie of the drop-in classes of last year, working with the individual students is extremely rewarding. It is clearly the right formula for serving the immigrant population of our area in an effective and enjoyable way.