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ESL Classes

WBC Sponsor: Wes & Peggy Mitchell Email

ission  ESL Classes: Changing Lives Forever
 oment  June, 2015

The 2014-2015 school year for ESL classes (English as a Second Language) culminated on May 11, 2015, having served fifty-four adults and thirty-six children and youth of the Whitney community.  For the past five years, the ESL program has been provided by the joint efforts of King Memorial Methodist Church and White Bluff Chapel. It is designed to provide adults and children with the tools to become productive English-speaking citizens of our community and nation.  

At an end-of-the-year celebration dinner, Wes Mitchell presented nine students with dual-language Bibles. Students must achieve a certain level of dual-language ability to earn these Bibles, which they will use at home with their families. The Bibles were provided by White Bluff Chapel. 

The complete ESL course of study offered through this program consists of four different levels, taking two years to complete each level.  Hence, eight years are required to complete all levels.  Five graduates from last year were challenged to return to serve as bilingual assistants this year. They all accepted the challenge and contributed much to the classes throughout the year.   

A highlight of this year's program was a new check-out library system available to the students. It consists of a large cabinet with holds a collection of over two hundred books to be checked out for reading at home.  White Bluff Chapel provided the library unit and donated or loaned most of the books.

A faculty of sixteen teachers and workers were involved in making the year a success.  White Bluff Chapel was represented by David Briggs, Jody Yarbro, John and Kathleen Knightstep, Madeleine Lively, Wes and Peggy Mitchell, and Tommy Edgar. Edgar supervises the youth program while their parents attend the English classes.

New classes will begin in the middle of September and will follow the Whitney school calendar.

ission  Fall ESL Classes Greeted with New Library
 oment  September, 2014

by Peggy Mitchell

Where did the summer go? It's hard to believe, but school has started again and so have ESL (English as a second language) classes. Registration for the new ESL school year was September 8th. We enrolled about fifty students and are expecting several more from last year to return in the next week or two.

Greeting the students this year was a check-out library unit. White Bluff Chapel's Local Missions furnished the program a resource cabinet to house a complete library of over two hundred books for students to check out and read at home. Many of these books were donated or loaned to us by members of WBC. The cabinet also has various drawers that hold teaching supplies. This cabinet is a wonderful tool to reinforce classroom learning.

There are teachers and assistants for each of our six classes, with the exception of a need for one more helper. White Bluff Chapel participants in the program include David Briggs, John and Kathleen Knightstep, Wes and Peggy Mitchell, Jody Yarbro, and Madeleine Lively. In addition to the English classes for the adults, we provide childcare for forty children, including a youth program supervised by WBC's own Tommy Edgar.

Last year we graduated our first class of five ladies after five years. They were given the challenge of returning this year to participate as bilingual assistants in the various classes. All five have accepted the challenge.

For the past five years, this program has provided an opportunity for adults and children to develop the tools needed to become productive English speaking citizens in our community. What a blessing to be a part of this valuable life-changing challenge.

ission  ESL Students Send Appreciation Flowers
 oment  April, 2014

The White Bluff Chapel Local Missions Committee provides funding to support the offering of free English as a Second Language classes for adults in Whitney. The major expense underwritten by WBC includes the textbooks and supplies for the students and teachers. In appreciation of the efforts of the teachers and the two churches that provide their ESL program, the students benefitting from the classes recently collected funds to offer flowers to decorate the church altars.

The two-hour classes meet on Monday evenings throughout the school year at King Memorial Methodist Church in downtown Whitney. There are 6 classes offered at 6 different levels. Pat Griffin chairs the overall WBC Missions Committee, and Dottie Briggs is the Education Missions Sub-Committee chairman. Volunteer teachers and teacher aides who are members of WBC include Peggy and Wes Mitchell, Kathleen and John Knightstep, David Briggs and Madeleine Lively. Jane Osborn and Debbie Bradley also assist on an occasional basis. Tommy Edgar provides recreational supervision for the older children while their parents attend class. There is also a nursery provided for babies and younger children.

Some sample thank-you notes written by the ESL students include the following entries:

  • When I came to ESL class five years ago, I didn't know how to speak, read or write in English.  After five years, I can communicate with family, friends, people at work.  I can understand when I watch TV, read newspapers, and go to meetings at school.  I am proud because I can go shopping without help and do other things by myself.  I can help my girls with homework and school projects.  I can make reservations at hotels and use the computer in English.  When I go to restaurants, I can read the menu and pay the check. -Elsy
  • Thank you for helping with the ESL program.  My mom is able to speak better each day.  This helps with teacher conferences and homework.  It has made a big difference with her job at the school.  Sometimes principals, secretaries and teachers ask her to help translate with Spanish speaking parent conferences. -Aylin
  • Hi! Personally this ESL class has helped me a lot in my job.  I can communicate with my customers.  I want to learn more about how to write and read cursive handwriting so I can read the notes my customers leave me.  I did not learn this in Mexico but I know it is never too late.  I see a lot of difference in my understanding of English. I am so happy to have this class in Whitney.  It is very important and just what I need.  Thank you so much to the teachers and all the people who support this program. -Berta
  • I am better able to communicate with people at work (Montes) and our customers. -Lucy  
  • I work at White Bluff and it helps me at work.  Thank You! -Antonio
  • It helps me at home with the kids. -Conception
  • I can go to a student conference without an interpreter. -Isabel
  • Now I am not embarrassed to speak English. -Bertha
  • I walk 20 minutes to get to ESL.  I have learned a lot and look forward to learning more. -Claudia
  • Sometimes we think we are not learning, but we can read more and understand English. -Ana  
  • We have not been here a long time, but we want to come more. We three started together and want to stay and learn more together.   -Nicolasa, Lourdes, Audelia

From teachers, students and children in the program, thanks so much for your support!!

Mission of the Month, December 2012

ESL Classes Produce High Results

Jiborish!!  Understand?  Of course you don’t.  It’s a foreign language to you.  Just suppose your children were learning jiborish in school and were very proficient in that language.  Many families in our community find themselves in that exact situation.  Their children are proficient in English and they are not.  Helping them with home work, talking with a doctor about illnesses, or ordering food at a restaurant is virtually impossible.

I’d like to tell you about a program that the Education Committee of White Bluff Chapel and King Memorial Methodist Church have been jointly participating in.  About 4 years ago, Jodie Jones and KMMC offered an ESL class for non-English speaking adults.  Not knowing what to expect on the night of registration, Jodie found herself with 48 ESL students, five table helpers and a nursery for infants through third grade children. 

My husband, Wes Mitchell, had always had a desire to learn Spanish and to teach ESL; however, he was not retired at the time. But he assured Jodie that if she would just hang in there, he would join her the following year.  I don’t know how, but Jodie made it through that year and the students made a great deal of progress.  Just as promised, the next year Jodie and Wes made plans to continue the program. 

They decided that with 48 students, they needed another teacher.  I had just retired from 36 years of teaching and rather enjoyed my new life-style. After a little arm-twisting, though, I agreed to become their third teacher.  Wes and I needed to recruit our own helpers. So, since family can’t say “no,” we asked Kathleen and John Knightstep to team teach with us. Not only are they family, but they are invaluable assets to this program. 

Registration night presented us with another surprise.  We didn’t have 48 students; we had 64.  Several parents were not comfortable leaving their “tweenagers” at home alone, so we found ourselves with another need and again, White Bluff Chapel came to our rescue.  Tommy Edgars volunteered to help those “tweenagers” with their homework and to provide them with activities while their parents were in class.  He has done an amazing job. Sometimes if the parents have to work or are ill, these students find another ride so they won’t miss Mr. Tommy’s class.

Last year we had 61 students register with 12 new non-English speaking students.  David Briggs was asked to teach that class, and what a blessing he has been!  His unique sense of humor and his teaching ability has made that class a huge success.  Also last year, 16 students reached proficiency in reading English, and as a reward, WBC purchased and presented them with side-by-side English-Spanish Bibles.  I can’t begin to tell you how excited they were to receive this gift!  Several of the families were alternating church services: one week, the English service and then the next week, the Spanish service.  This made it possible to teach their children Biblical truths with understanding. 

This fall we registered our fourth class of ESL students. We had 54 students with 8 new learners.  One of the ladies from KMMC who had been a helper for three years volunteered to teach the next class.  We now have five leveled classes of English as a second language with over half of them who have been with us for four years. Many of them have a desire to become proficient enough in English to get their GED. 

You know many of these people.  They serve you at local restaurants, they do your rockwork around your home, they help with your electrical problems, they paint your houses, and they help keep your golf courses in great shape.

On behalf of these adult students and their families, I say “Thank You” for helping them reach dreams of becoming contributing citizens in our community, for giving their children the opportunity to become people they never dreamed they could become.  From the teachers, “Thank You” for helping us pursue our passions, for giving us the blessings that come with this mission, and for sharing in our rich memories with these very grateful students.