For the East Hampton School District’s director of English as a second language, Elizabeth Reveiz, “English is power.”
The idea, which she so often stresses to her students, has been the driving force behind her work to bring structured family literacy programs to the district. This year, adult English classes will be offered on Tuesday nights over the course of 15 weeks, for $5 per class.
“In years past, these programs have been funded by grants,” Ms. Reveiz said in a phone interview on Monday. “This year, it’s being funded by the participants, and it’s going to be leveled. When they come into that first class, they’ll receive an assessment to determine their proficiency.”
After the assessment, which will use a test formerly administered by New York State, participants will be broken up into beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Workbooks will be given out so that attendees can practice what they’ve learned in class while at home.
“We’re so happy to hear that something we’d asked about last year was put in place,” East Hampton School Board member Jackie Lowey said of the program during a meeting earlier this month. “I’m really happy to see it followed through.”
By charging a fee for the class, the district is able to offer more specialized and formal education, Ms. Reveiz said, since grants don’t always provide enough support. “In the past, it’s been 40 parents, 20 in one class and 20 in another,” she said. “This year, it’ll be broken up by ability.”
Ms. Reveiz said being able to speak more than one language is crucial today, especially in a district where 14 percent of the district’s student body is classified as being English language learners.
“I think it’s critical,” she said of learning another language. “If you know another language, wherever you are, the more power you have to function in that community and excel. I tell kids here all the time, English is power, because it really is. It allows you to have a wider range of opportunities.”
But as important as it is for Spanish-speaking residents to understand English, it is equally important for native English-speakers to understand Spanish, she said. The district will also offer a Spanish for beginners class on Thursday evenings from 6 to 7 p.m., running October 9 through December 18, for $10 a class, with an emphasis on listening comprehension and speaking skills.
“We live in a global community,” said Ms. Reveiz. “I think that it’s so beneficial for us to know more than one language.”
The Spanish class operates on a first-come, first-served basis and will be capped at 20 people.
So far, the district has about 50 people registered for the English classes, with 30 of those officially enrolled. Registration for the class ends on Friday, October 3, and also operates on first-come, first-served basis, with parents of children in the district getting top priority. Classes are tentatively set to begin the third week in October.
“We want community members to attend, too,” said Ms. Reveiz, “but because parents are partners in their child’s educational experience, we need to give them an opportunity as well.”
For more information or to register for the English class, contact Ms. Reveiz at Elizabeth.Reveiz@ehufsd.org; and for the Spanish class, contact Andrea Hernandez at Andrea.Hernandez@ehufsd.org.