This upcoming semester, the learning environment of Uplift Luna Secondary is opening up to not only welcome scholars in grades 6 through 11 but their parents and family members as well. Through a partnership with Literary Instruction for Texas, LIFT, many Uplift Luna secondary parents are getting a unique opportunity to learn English, meet other parents and foster a sense of community on campus.
LIFT has been helping provide easily accessible and affordable literacy, GED and ESL classes in Dallas for the past 53 years. The ESL program helps non-English speaking adults learn conversational English in order to facilitate workplace and everyday situations by breaking down the language barrier. However, what makes these ESL classes especially unique at Uplift Luna is that they will be taught by other Uplift Luna parent volunteers.
Parent volunteers that wanted to help teach their fellow Uplift Luna parents signed up to receive training and curriculum from LIFT last spring. They then received training that showed them how to give ESL instruction and provided the curriculum. Over the course of 3 months, these parent teachers will meet with students twice a week. In order to accommodate parents, classes will be offered in the morning and at night, as well as in different levels so that students can learn at the appropriate level.
Uplift Luna Secondary school leaders, Candice Dagnino and Kristina Nitahara are excited to partner with LIFT in order to offer this resource to the school community. Their hopes are that this program will greatly enhance the ways parents support their scholars academically at home by removing the language barrier.
“Our parents participating in the course will gain access to the language in which their scholars receive instruction, which will better equip them to access their scholars’ curriculum and offer support with homework at home. Parents will also gain direct access to the school, teachers, and staff while on campus, which will lead to a heightened understanding of the work our school is doing to support their scholars’ academic and social development.” said Candice, high school director.
Another added bonus to this program is that parents will get the opportunity to interact with each other, both as teachers, students and as an overall Uplift Luna family.
“Because parents will also serve as teachers, our hope is that our parent community will grow, parent engagement, in general, will increase, and all of our parents will have a more authentic presence and voice on campus.” said Kristina Nitahara, middle school director.
Parents that signed up for the classes attended various kick-off events at Uplift Luna Secondary where they got introductions to the 12 week course, took placement tests and got to know one another.
Parents shared many reasons for wanting to learn English. Some wanted to improve their English so that they could go to the movies and actually understand or to be able to keep up with jokes that their kids made at home. Others shared more personal reasons such as Anabel Rodriguez, whose primary reason for learning English was so that she could make her son proud.
“Our parents have many reasons why they want to take this class but they all share a vision: to help their scholars with their school work and become more involved with the Luna community. In just two days of class, parents are talking about all of the new things they are learning and making sure they are speaking as much English as possible while in class.” said Yuritza Morales, Academic Counselor.
Another Uplift school, Uplift Williams Preparatory will also be offering ESL courses in partnership with Dallas based organization, VMLC. VMLC offers ESL classes to 1,000 adults in the Dallas area. This is the first time that VMLC has offered ESL classes in a location other than its two main campuses.
Both ESL classes will run for 12 weeks, however, the VMLC classes are taught by volunteers through VMLC. Around 60 Uplift Williams parents and family members have signed up to take classes in one of the three levels offered.
By providing these resources to parents, both Uplift Luna Secondary and Uplift Williams Preparatory hope to help parents become even more empowered advocates for their scholars and themselves at home and at school.