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Family Ed celebrates 20 years with open house PDF Print E-mail
Written by Darci Tomky   

Celebrating their humble beginning in 1992, Phillips County Family Education Services is hosting an open house for their 20th birthday. All community members are invited to stop by the Phillips County Event Center Biesemeier Room Thursday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. for some cake and ice cream and to learn more about their programs.

Family Education Services first began offering English as a second language classes in 1992 and has evolved into so much more in the last two decades.

In conjunction with the ESL class curriculum, class members can also participate in a family literacy and early childhood program.

In 2001, PCFES began offering GED classes, and their afterschool program kicked off in 2011. Community classes and citizenship courses are also offered on an as-needed basis.

Open registration for all programs continues throughout the school year. Anyone interested in registering should call PCFES at 854-2595. All classes are held at Phillips County Event Center.

Executive director Trisha Herman explained PCFES opperates on funds from Colorado Department of Education’s adult education fund as well as from private funders. Along with Herman, a board of directors helps run the nonprofit organization.

With a wide variety of programs offered, PCFES is always looking for more volunteers to make sure everything is running smoothly. Anyone interested should call Herman at 854-2595.

Herman is excited about celebrating 20 years at the open house and having the opportunity to show community members the programs offered by PCFES.


ESL instructor Toby From, at left, works with class members, pictured from left, Guadalupe Beltram, Angela Marquez, Aide Flores and Claudia Martinez.  

—Enterprise photo

ESL, family literacy and early childhood classes

The ESL, family literacy and early childhood classes make up the largest program for Family Education Services.

Instructor Toby From offers classes Monday-Thursday from 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. Evening classes are held Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 5:30-8 p.m.

From, who describes herself as a facilitator who encourages learning, teaches her ESL students the four areas of listening, reading, writing and speaking English. She is there to help the students meet their goals in a comfortable atmosphere.

ESL student Claudia Martinez said she benefits from the class because now she can go to the doctor and understand more. She can also converse better at parent/teacher conferences or help with homework assignments her child brings home from school.

“I’m less afraid to talk,” added Guadalupe Beltram.

“I try to learn something new every day,” said Aide Flores, which helps her at her job.

Angela Marquez said it’s a good opportunity for people to come and learn English. Students can help each other, and it’s a great way to make friends.

From has been teaching since 2000, but most might be surprised that she doesn’t know very much Spanish. She said that’s an advantage for the teacher because it forces the students to practice their English while in the classroom.

Since she began 12 years ago, the program has really grown, and they were excited to be in their new facilities when the Event Center was finished a few years ago.

“It’s a very rewarding experience,” said From. She has seen a couple students work their way from the beginning ESL course work to the adult basic education (ABE) class, which is a transition course between ESL and GED.

She said one person who began in ESL even completed their GED, served on the PCFES board and then became a full-time volunteer for the program. “I consider that success,” said From.

Others have reached their goals because of the class, whether it was being promoted to manager at work or passing their driving test.

“These are the ladies that really want to make a difference,” said Herman.

In addition to ESL classes, parents spend time interacting with their
children to put into practice what they have learned about parent
education. Instructor Lizeth Ramos, at left, works with her son Kevin,
at right, while Claudia Martinez and her daughter Moraima, in center,
complete an activity.

—Enterprise photo

From explained the ESL class is group-style teaching, which covers life and work skills that they will use in their everyday lives. The GED classes are more focused on independent learning, so the ABE transition class helps the students become more independent learners.

In addition to learning English, an important part of the ESL curriculum is family literacy.

During the day classes, instructor Lizeth Ramos works with children 6 months to 5 years in the early childhood classroom.

ESL students who have children devote a portion of their time to parenting education. They put their skills to the test and join their children for Parent and Child Together Time (PACT Time) in the early childhood classroom. They are learning practical and useful lessons about how to teach their children.

This childcare during the daytime ESL classes is free of charge. There are fees for the ESL and GED classes, but they can be waived depending on circumstances.


GED classes

GED classes are offered Mondays and Thursdays from noon-3 p.m. and 5:30-7:30 p.m. with instructor Shirley Krogmeier.

This is a preparation class for the GED test, so no actual testing is done in Holyoke. However, the students will get to take preparation tests so they can be confident they have the skills they need when heading into the real test.


Afterschool program

A free, educational-based afterschool program meets Monday-Thursday from 4-5:15 p.m. with instructor Janismarie Oberle and assistant Linda Kurtzer.

Kids have the opportunity to work on homework and to hear from community members about their unique occupation or talent.


Community classes

A variety of community classes have been offered through PCFES, and right now they are holding a five-week conversational Spanish class through NJC beginning Tuesday, Oct. 23.

Citizenship classes are also available. Volunteer Linda Statz works with people who are studying to gain U.S. citizenship.

For those needing employment service assistance, Kathy Campbell from Sterling Workforce Center is available to meet with them at the Event Center every first and third Thursday of the month from noon-2 p.m.

PCFES’ computer lab at the Event Center is free to use by community members during hours classes are offered and the building is unlocked. Users must agree to follow the computer rules. Businesses or organizations may also rent the computer lab for conferences or meetings.

For any questions, please call PCFES at 854-2595.

Holyoke Enterprise October 18, 2012