Dozens of parents of English language learners from Woodland Elementary District 50 met Monday night at Woodland Intermediate to learn about a free adult education program to help them build English and computer skills.
Robert Machak, assistant superintendent of education for the district, said parents who take the classes, which are housed in district schools, become enrolled as students of the College of Lake County in Grayslake.
For many, this is their first university experience.
“We know it changes the life trajectories of families for the better by opening the doors of higher education to people,” Machak said. “It’s been really rewarding and people are taking advantage of those opportunities.”
Elizabeth Sanchez Szepesi, assistant director of language acquisition for the district, said 25 parents participated in the program when it launched in the fall, and officials hope more families will get involved this spring. She said parents in the district are placed into one of two tiers based on their English skills. Parents at either grade can sign up for the weekly computer class, which uses the same Google Chromebook laptops their kids get in school.
Under the partnership, CIS pays the instructors and District 50 provides the classrooms.
In addition to free access to college education, the district also offers childcare services for parents who need it to attend their evening classes. Machak said childcare is often provided by local high school students who volunteer through honor clubs or service.
Machak, who was selected last week to be District 50’s next superintendent, said as District 124 superintendent in Evergreen Park, he leads a similar program with Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills.
He has seen the success of this program firsthand and hopes District 50 parents who participate will feel more connected to the district and become more involved.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this program,” Machak said.
For now, the program is only for parents in the district of English-learning students, but officials would like to open it up in the future, Sanchez Szepesi said.