Poling Tang is a student in the Writing Intensive class taught by Mary Peros at San Mateo Adult School. The Writing Intensive class helps ESL students develop writing skills for college, career, and civic engagement.
Poling wrote the following essay as extra homework during Spring Break, "to express my gratitude to the adult school education system which plays an important role in my journey of life."
Thank you, Poling, for writing this remarkable essay and for sharing it with the larger community. And thank you, Teacher Mary, for helping your students to give voice to their wisdom in the English language.
High Quality Education within the Adult School System
John Adams, the Second U.S. President said: “There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.”(1) Furthermore, John Jay, the First U.S. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court said that “I consider knowledge to be the soul of a republic...Education is the way to do this, and nothing should be left undone to afford all ranks of people of the means of obtaining a proper degree of it at a cheap and easy rate.”(1) The high quality education within the state adult school system follows the principles set by our forefathers by “directing resources to serving those traditionally underserved; especially those disadvantaged economically or academically.” (SMAS commitment)(2) The following are two SMAS students who achieve success plus my personal experience, showing how the adult school education programs transform students from harsh conditions to better lives, a brighter future and being productive citizens.
As compared with academic college education, the high quality education within the adult school system does not have to cost a lot. However, the school must be accessible to the public with available transportation, be aware of what the community needs and having an enjoyable and friendly platform for learning. As the students are from all walks-of-life and from different cultural, they need flexible education programs, familiar neighborhoods and available public transportation. Leticia Navarro(3), a successful student from SMAS, said that the adult school provides a “comfortable atmosphere where the students can be free to use the language they have to communicate.” Besides learning from classes, she also explored a new culture by a school field trip. As a result, the trip taught her “so independent” that later on she took public transportation by herself. She started from a “small step” in a comfortable zone-ESL classroom which progressively directed her to a “big step” of helping other children to acquire English at Fiesta Gardens School. She concluded that Adult School is where “she gained a foundation in a new language and new culture and at the same time learned about how education could happen in a new way.”
Another advantage of adult school is the low cost or no cost funded programs available to the public in training English, job skills, and adult basic education. Mr. Larry Teshara(4), the Director of SMAS commented about the “Governor’s funding proposal” should not overlook the adult school students who “are the parents, guardians, family and neighbors of those same school children…setting a great example in their own homes by attending school.” Alvaro Pirir(3) another successful student, tells us how the low cost adult school programs help him to pursue his nursing career. He “worked two jobs until he was 18, and then entered the adult school ESL program.” Since then, he worked through Adult Learning Center for high school basic skills. Finally he “had attended a GED and had the confidence to enter the College of San Mateo.” He continues to work and study with the goals of becoming a registered nurse, and then a physician “if he can save enough money” by that time. He is living proof that affordable adult school programs play a significant role for those who strive for a better future and becoming responsible citizens.
The third advantage is the various and flexible education programs which meet what a resident needs within his or her community. For instances, I have gone through different stages of my learning path through adult school programs for over 20 years. When I was a new immigrant, I needed job skills (especially computer acknowledge) and assistance in job searching. At the same time, I wanted to adjust myself in a new culture within a friendly environment. After my job was secured, I required classes for self-improvement, for preparing citizenship and for hobby or interests. In between layoffs, I attended classes for updating my work skills, for polishing my resume, interview…etc. Just three years ago, I gained knowledge from Home Aide Care program for my sick family member at home. Nevertheless, currently I am an adult school student again and a volunteer in serving our community. The flexible and various adult education programs positively “teach us(me) how to make a living and the other how to live.”(1) I am always thankful for these “two educations”, offering support and knowledge to meet my needs in different stage of my adult life.
In summary, two hundred years ago, our forefathers already valued the importance of education for “all ranks of people,” and “at a cheap and easy rate.” From the above three successful stories, without a doubt the high quality education within the adult school system fulfills the opportunities for “all ranks of people” to excel and grow with affordable tuition fees, location accessibility, flexible class schedules and a pleasant learning environment. As a reminder with reference to SMAS’s commitment, no one should be left behind due to economic or academic disadvantages. The education programs are here for us to explore, enrich our lives and others no matter what stages of our life journeys are! Thank you for making our nation and our education so great!
(1)[ dated 3/28/2015]
(2)[/, dated 3/29/2015]
(3) [http://www.smace.org/students/success_stories/, dated 3/31/2015]
(4) [, dated 4/1/2015]