Bethel has offered ESL classes on Wednesday evenings during the school year for over 2 years now. Beginning in the fall of 2016, Pastor Beto worked to get the word out in our neighborhood and invited anyone who was interested to come to our classes. That first night, we had a huge turn-out and it was a little overwhelming, but we made it through and quickly got into a groove hosting classes for the adults along with feeding and taking care of their children so the parents could focus on their study. We ordered books, hired teachers and eventually were able to offer classes for three different levels depending on what the students needed. Pastor Beto has also spent a lot of time getting to know the families and engaging with them on a personal level along with sharing a devotion and prayer time each week.
My time has been spent with the kids who thankfully, at least for the ones old enough to be in school, speak English well. I had Spanish in college, and for a while we were able to have Spanish lessons as a staff, and I understand a little more than I can speak, but it's pretty limited! I have been very greatful that we have at times had bilingual volunteers as well to help communicate with parents and the littlest ones as well. With some trial and error we were eventually able to find a good balance of fun and play time with a quick and engaging Bible lesson. By that time of the day, the kids are all pretty done with listening and sitting still! Every kid who has ever attended has at the very least had the opportunity to hear about the Bible and Jesus' love for them.
This has been a wonderful program for our families, but we are very excited aboout the new classes that will begin in the New Year. Pastor Chris learned about a program offered by Dallas County Community College District called Work Ready U that offers ESL classes among other job skills classes. We will work directly with Eastfield college, and they are going to provide all the curriculum and certfied teachers for the new classes which will now meet twice each week for 2 hours. The program also has a more structured method of evaluation to move through the different levels so that students will really be able to measure their progress.
This is all paid for by grant money so along with providing a wonderful opportunity for the students, it will allow Bethel to use it's resources in other ways. Students who participate in these classes will receive Eastfield ID's and be able to use the library and other campus resources and attend other Work Ready U classes as well.
Eastfield is not just taking over our ESL program though! Bethel will still have a very important role to play.
First, now, instead of only needing volunteers to watch the kids for one and half hours on one night, we are going to need them for two and a half hours on both Monday and Wednesday evenings. The kids are great, and we have figured out what routine works pretty well by now so this is a great opportunity to just come hang out and make some new best little friends!
Second, Pastor Beto will still be providing relational and spiritual care around the classes. We also reach out to many of these families through our Back to School Blessing each year and some end up on our Highland Meadows Angel Tree. We all have the opportunity to reach out to these neighbors in some way.
We will have registration and orientation Wednesday, January 23 & Monday, January 28 6:00-8:30 p.m., and the classes begin in earnest Monday, February 4, 2019.
If you would be willing to be on our volunteer list for the kids, please let me know ASAP! Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know if you would prefer Monday or Wednesday (or both!) and how often you think you'll be able to make it. So far we have been able to have enough volunteers so that no one feels like they have to show up every single week. It always seems to work out that we get everything covered. Just please plan to let me know ahead of time! We are flexible, but the more hands on deck the better it is for everyone...kids and volunteers alike!