Woodland school district, CLC team up to offer free adult education English, computer classes for parents
Dozens of Woodland Elementary District 50 parents of English language learners met Monday night at Woodland Intermediate to learn more about a free adult education program to help them learn English and computer skills.
Robert Machak, the district's associate superintendent of education, said the parents who take the courses, which are hosted at district schools, become registered as students of the College of Lake County in Grayslake.
For many, it's their first college experience.
"We know that this is changing the trajectories of families' lives for the better by opening up higher education doors for people," Machak said. "It has been really gratifying and people are taking advantage of these opportunities."
Elizabeth Sanchez Szepesi, the district's assistant director of language acquisition, said 25 parents participated in the program when it launched in the fall, and officials are hopeful more families will get involved this spring. She said district parents are placed in one of two levels based on their English language skills. Parents of either level may enroll in the weekly computer class, which uses the same Google Chromebook laptops that their children are given for school.
Under the partnership, CLC pays the instructors and District 50 provides the classrooms.
Along with free access to college education, the district also provides child care for parents who need it to attend their evening courses. Machak said the child care often is provided by local high school students who volunteer their time through honors or service clubs.
Machak, who was selected last week to be District 50's next superintendent, said that as superintendent of District 124 in Evergreen Park, he ran a similar program with Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills.
He saw that program's success firsthand and is hopeful District 50 parents who participate feel more connected to the district and become more involved.
"I couldn't be prouder of this program," Machak said.
For now, the program is meant only for district parents of students who are English language learners, but officials would like to open it up in the future, Sanchez Szepesi said.