$35,000 ESL Grant to enhance education

The Shelton Board of Education voted to approve a federal grant for the Valley Regional Adult Education ESL Program. The Board of Ed approved the $35,000 federal grant at their April 27 meeting.

The grant will fund the VREA project entitled English Literacy and EL Civics. The project will expand class availability and enhance the education of ESL students in English language proficiency and civic awareness and knowledge.

The money is for the 2016-2017 school year, slated to begin July 1 to June 30.

The grant will target 150 students, costing $233 per student. The ESL program currently has 441 students, said Lee Wolf, program manager for the Valley Regional Adult Education Center.

She said there is usually a three percent enrollment each year, so the school may have 450 students in 2016 -2017. Those students will represent 50 to 55 different countries.

The additional $35,000 will expand the ESL program, which has been offered at VRAE for a decade, Wolf said. She said the program, is currently offered for four days, but with the additional grant money, it will be available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The grant will also allow the ESL program to purchase newspapers to use for current events, to purchase civic related videos,  to enhance technology, and to cover staff development for teachers in civic related activities to integrate into the classroom.

In the Appendix B Priority Area Abstract of the grant, it stated some of the impact the grant money will have on the targeted population, which will include increased interest in government.

The grant will enable the target population to increase awareness and interest in local government, increase confidence to act on one's own behalf, interact with government agencies and enhance one's ability to solve a problem through a plan of action.”

The abstract also said the program developed by the grant will focus on employment strategies for in-demand industries and occupations. The classes will also teach ESL with civics and job preparedness topics.

Dr. Christopher Clouet, Superintendent of Shelton schools, commented after the meeting on the grant approval and the collaboration between VRAE and Shelton education system.

“I can only say that it's an example of how we work very closely with Adult Ed, and we are very much in tune with the needs of students that go beyond K to12,” Superintendent Clouet said.

“We are happy to be a support, and we are a fiduciary agent for much of what  happens at Valley Adult Ed.”