For nearly six years, Helene Rodriguez has dedicated evenings teaching Level One ESL (English Second Language) courses at Christel House DORS. Night classes offer adult students a chance to earn high school diplomas. “They work 10, 12-hour shifts, then rush to get to class – straight from work,” says Rodriguez. “They’re committed to learning.”
Rodriguez says she tells students it’s okay if they’re a little late to class. “As long as you’re here, that’s what’s important.” DORS welcomes many students, including those that have immigrated to the United States. Rodriguez estimates 80% are learning English so ESL classes are in high demand. She notes some start with no English skills but adapt quickly. “It’s just so rewarding to see how they start with me, at Level One, and then the next thing they’re taking high school classes and getting ready to graduate.” She says the pandemic has been a game-changer for teachers and students.
For many of the adults, doing homework using a computer has been a revelation – and an opportunity to learn critical technical skills. “We’ve had adults that didn’t know how to turn on a computer. Now, in addition to learning a language, they’re learning how to use technology.” Rodriguez is proud of the opportunities DORS provides. “I was fortunate to have been born in the United States,” she says. “My parents are immigrants – I’ve always been passionate working with immigrant populations.”