ESL classes now available for adults

Published 9:09 am Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Washington Parish Schools’ Northside Resource Center will be offering English as a Second Language courses, beginning Tuesday, Sept. 8.

The courses will be offered beginning Tuesday, Sept. 8, at the Washington Parish School Board Office at 800 Main St. in Franklinton, and Wednesday, Sept. 9 at Northside Technical Middle School, located at 517 Mississippi Ave. in Bogalusa.

Courses for part-time students are available during the day from 8 a.m. to noon. Evening classes are scheduled from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays.

“This is a first. I don’t anyone has started an English as a Second Language Program in Bogalusa for adults,” said Penny Moses, supervisor of adult education for Washington Parish Schools.

Moses said the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA), which President Barack Obama signed into law in July 2014, will greatly affect adult education programs.

“WIOA is going to bring about a lot of changes in the way we do business in adult education and the way we offer services,” she said. “We’re going to be working with other agencies to help adults become more employable. Therefore, all of the agencies need to work together to help adults, and that impacts the economic conditions of in our community.

“People actually want jobs, but we’ve got to make them qualified for those jobs. It’s not just about a high school diploma anymore. Whatever we can do to help adults attain skills that make them more employable is a goal.”

The program recently hired University of New Orleans graduate Okesha Morris as an instructor. James McDaniels is also an instructor. He teaches Spanish at Varnado and Pine schools during the week. Peggy McCastle is an assistant.

“This is a free service. All students need to do is show up and register,” Moses said. “The staff is knowledgeable and equipped to prepare students for new opportunities. One of them begins with their obtaining their HiSET diploma.”

Moses has been with Washington Parish Schools for 32 years. She is in her eighth year as adult education supervisor.

“I’ve seen some monumental growth and continued services made available for those who want need it,” Moses said. “You’ve got to have your mind made up to do it.”

Population shifts over the years have made bilingual speakers essential in the workforce, according to Moses.

“People need to know English as a second language because we have cultural and population changes,” she said. “We have to offer services that will make students comfortable speaking the language. We’re providing the community with an additional resource for those who need it.

“Our population is changing and we’re seeing a mix of cultures. When you can’t communicate, you have a barrier. What we want to do is reduce that barrier and assist students with learning the English language.”

The program was recently offered in Franklinton and started small, but has continued to grow.

“The program grew to 19 students before the 16-week program ended in June,” Moses said. “This year’s program won’t have a stopping point until the end of the year.”