ESL Center helping newcomers learn lay of the land

esl group.tif

ESL Center. Students at the ESL Center learn how to read and write in English. Most of the students are refugees from countries in Central America, Africa and Asia. Joe Jarosz


Northeast News
March 19, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – In Historic Northeast Kansas City, Mo., lies a school that houses roughly 700 students.

But this isn’t any normal school. Not when its student body represents over 75 countries from around the world, including eastern Africa, central America and Asia.

The English as a Second Language Center, located at the St. Anthony’s Parish at 309 Benton Blvd., assists refugees in learning English. The Don Bosco Center, in partnership with the Independence School District, tests students at registration to determine their English skill level, then enrolls the students into the appropriate class, free of charge. The curriculum is designed to teach not only the language, but also aspects of American daily life, culture, and traditions.

Leslie Gasser, fund development director for the Don Bosco Center, said many of the students are refugees, some of whom are learning to read and write for the first time. She said the refugees work with the American consultant to determine where they’ll be placed. Kansas City has a refugee program through Jewish Vocational Services, which supports the refugees for 90 days once they get placed in the area.

The center and its staff conduct one-on-one meetings with the students once enrolled because not every student will be on the same level. Through those meetings, Gasser said staff helps to identify what the student’s personal goals are and what they need to be successful.

“There’s a lot of help with life skills because life in the United States can be overwhelming,” Gasser said.

The classes – which last from August through June – begin at the most basic level, Gasser said. From there, she added, staff is very hands-on with its teaching. Diana Le, ESL instructor, said the learning level is mixed amongst its students, as some were doctors and lawyers in their native homeland.

“Those students progress real fast,” Le said.

The center is paid for from a Department of Education grant, which Gasser said pays for a majority of the center, as well as fundraisers hosted by the Don Bosco Center. She said St. Anthony’s Parish is a great central location in northeast for its students. Don Bosco Center has operated the ESL center for over 30 years but, in July 2013, began a partnership with the Independence School District to better its services for refugees.

“This is a partnership that’s less than one year old and we’re already seeing great results,” Gasser said.

Bob Jansen, who’s taught at the school for over 30 years, said a lot has changed since he began his career with the center. When the school first opened, many students were of Vietnamese descent. Now, the school is more mixed in its population. He added there’s a lot more technology used now, as well.

“Even the low level students are getting immersed in computer technology,” Jansen said. “There are much better materials now.”

After the students graduate, Jewish Vocational Services helps students find work in the community. If students don’t successfully complete the school, Gasser said it is usually to the students leaving to care for family or life circumstances.

“Some disappear but we try to accommodate as best we can,” Gasser said.

Shawntell Martin, ESL and GED instructor, said her classes deal with more than just language, but life lessons. Her assignments, she said, are geared more toward work readiness.

“I help them with their resumes and we conduct mock interviews,” Martin said.

She also incorporates a lot of survival skills into her lessons, which includes how to interact in society, searching for homes and government and job forms.

“We help them balance their lives,” Martin said. “There’s great relationship building and a wealth of work here that’s never ending. But it’s a fun, learning experience.”


Comments are closed.

  • Crossroads Academy and Scuola Vita Nuova to Open Downtown High School in 2018

    February 3rd, 2016

    Northeast News KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Northeast’s Scuola Vita Nuova [SVN] and downtown’s Crossroads Academy — two of Kansas City’s leading K-8 charter schools — will merge organizations in July

    Contract talks begin with new superintendent

    January 27th, 2016

    Northeast News KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The Kansas City Public Schools Board of Directors unanimously voted to enter into contract negotiations with Dr.

    KCPS names Dr. Mark Bedell as new superintendent

    January 20th, 2016

    Joe Jarosz Northeast News Jan. 20, 2016 KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The Kansas City Public Schools Board of Directors unanimously […]

    Superintendent search down to two

    January 20th, 2016

    Northeast News KANSAS CITY, Missouri — A packed auditorium of parents and students at the Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts got a glimpse of who their next superintendent

    KCU cuts ribbon to new administration building and a year of centennial celebrations

    January 20th, 2016

    Northeast News KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences [KCU] kicked off its centennial celebration year with the ribbon cutting of its administration building.

  • [Advertisement.]
  • Glimpse into the past

    January 13th, 2016

    Northeast News KANSAS CITY, Missouri — A small tin box offered a glimpse into Northeast’s past.
    Last Saturday, the Kansas City Museum opened a time capsule that was found in a

    KCU and Missouri Southern State University partner to offer “It’s Yours to Lose – Advanced Medical Acceptance Program”

    January 13th, 2016

    Northeast News KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCU), signed a partnership agreement with Missouri Southern State University (MSSU), a state-supported university located in Joplin,

    KCU Assistant Dean and NE native Anne VanGarsse selected as Chief Medical Officer for Health Partnership Clinic

    January 6th, 2016

    Northeast News KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCU) has announced that Anne VanGarsse, MD, assistant dean of clinical affairs and assistant professor of

    KCPS School Board hosting Jan. 14 public forums with Superintendent finalists

    January 6th, 2016

    Northeast News KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The Kansas City Public Schools Board of Directors is hosting individual forums with the two Superintendent finalists.

    Della Lamb helps residents celebrate Christmas

    December 23rd, 2015

    Northeast News KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Della Lamb is committed to its community.
    So much so that during the holidays, when they know there are low income families out there

  • Local Weather

  • What’s Happening

    Mardi Gras celebration

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Feb. 10, 2016 KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Columbus Park’s Don Bosco Senior Center was the scene […]

    City to Speedy Cash – you’re done

    Northeast News KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The wrecking ball has been spared once at the corner of Independence Boulevard and Prospect Avenue.

    Upscale Baltimore Hotel hosted presidents

    Northeast News Eccentric. That’s how many described noted turn-of-the-century Kansas City architect Louis S. Curtiss.