Repurposed: BGISD Professional Development and Learning Center hosts kids, adults

By CHUCK MASON The Daily News

It has been a six-year learning odyssey for Angela Estrada of Bowling Green.

Lady at table teaching young girl Right, top:Daniela Garcia, 9, gets help Oct. 28 with
her math homework from Ashley Eakles, who helps with the child care program at the Bowling Green Independent School District Professional Development and Learning Center. Center:
Photo by Austin Anthony - Daily News

While her 10-year-old son, Alex, played last week in the Bowling Green Independent School District Professional Development and Learning Center s gym the former Dishman-McGinnis Elementary School Estrada was learning English in one of the classrooms.

Down the hall, students worked on classwork prior to taking a high school equivalency exam, or GED, test, while others took instruction to become U.S. citizens.

It has been difficult to speak and write English. Right now it is a little more easier, said the 34-year-old Estrada, who said she couldn t participate if child care wasn t available in the early evenings.

Estrada has now progressed to the advanced English language learning class from the beginners class. She formerly took her English classes at Parker-Bennett-Curry Elementary School, where the classes have been held the past eight years.

Lady feeding a baby a bottle
Morgan Huff of London, Ky., feeds Baltazar
Pedro, Jr., at the Bowling Green Independent
School District Professional Development and
Learning Center on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014.
(Austin Anthony/Daily News)
The name of the building has changed; however, learning is still the mission, said Margaret Sullivan, adult education specialist for Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College. Bowling Green city district and SKYCTC work together for the programs. There are about 30 people who assist the free effort, which is funded through a $75,000 yearly grant provided through Warren County Adult Education. That s everyone from teachers to volunteers, cooks and bus drivers, said Teresa Sneed, the city district s parent involvement coordinator. Sneed also works with the city district s migrant worker program.

Eighty-five students attend regularly, and we have 163 enrolled today, Sullivan said of the twice-weekly classes in the school at 503 Old Morgantown Road. Classes continue through Dec. 9 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. There can be up to 75 children, from babies to teens, each class night.

Maria Aleman, 33, of Bowling Green, took a break from her GED class to talk about the program.

You have to make sure that you are committed to it, Aleman said. Once she receives a GED certificate, Aleman hopes to change careers from restaurant work to maybe office work, she said.

Cindy White, who teaches GED classes, said it is important for GED students to have a positive relationship with an adult to shore up their educational efforts.

Sullivan said enrollments in the free classes are fluid. They just show up. Every night we have new students, Sullivan said.

Three buses travel through Bowling Green apartment complexes and city streets to pick up the adult students and their children at more than 20 stops.

Because of the additional space, we added one bus and one classroom this year, Sneed said.

Children and adults had access last week to meals of chicken or turkey patties, peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, oranges and milk, Sneed said. Those 19 years and older can purchase dinner and the meals are free to those 18 years old and younger.

When we went around last week and told them about the food, we had people who applauded, Sneed said. The food was purchased with grant money obtained by the city school district.

Morgan Huff, a sophomore from London majoring in child care studies at WKU, helps take care of toddlers in the gym.

We make them feel welcome and loved, Huff said. It s a lot of teamwork.

The children can view movies, play and do homework. Many of the children busied themselves with a pumpkin-themed game Oct. 28.

The main challenge is the language barrier, said Lauren Sneed, a WKU senior majoring in family studies

Lady teaching a class holding a document Betsy Johnson teaches a citizenship class at
the Bowling Green Independent School District Professional Development and Learning Center on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014.
(Austin Anthony/Daily News)
who plans to graduate next month. The Bullitt County native said the children know a lot of English words.

I love working with the children, Lauren Sneed said. It s making an impact on children and their families. She hopes to work in a family resource center in public schools someday.

It can get overwhelming we ve got everyone from infants to high schoolers. At the beginning of the school year we had a lot of crying, Lauren Sneed said.

Teresa Sneed said the kids now just get on the floor and play with the toys or zip around the gym, minus tears.

The city district parent involvement coordinator said teachers in the program have learned to appreciate Angela Estrada s culinary expertise, particularly her tasty tamales and pozole soup with beef, pork and white corn like hominy.

She s a great cook, Teresa Sneed said.