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Brookhaven College employee newsletter: Feb. 16, 2011

New Program Raises Awareness of Community Colleges

New Program Raises Awareness of Community Colleges

Daffne Bennett organized a College Awareness
Class for the Catholic Charities of Dallas.

Outreach and continuing education staff members are working hard together to ensure a future generation of Brookhaven College Bears.

Daffne Bennett, outreach and recruitment coordinator, recently organized a successful College Awareness Class for participants in Together We Learn, a program of the Catholic Charities of Dallas.

The class targets young children and their families who live in the zip codes that feed into Thomas Jefferson High School. The program, which ran August through December, includes English for Speakers of Other Languages lessons and educational speakers for the parents and English and school-readiness skills lessons for the children.

"The instructors involved in the Catholic Charities project - James Burns, Melinda Franklin, Sara Keyes, Christy Whetstone - love it," said Leroy Butler, continuing education and workforce specialist. "I have seldom known a BHC ESOL WCE teacher who does not love what they do and transfer that love to the classroom."

Sadie Funk, director of Together We Learn, was more than pleased with the results of the class.

"Under the leadership of Daffne Bennett, the College Awareness Classes were extremely beneficial to our program as a whole and to the individual parents involved in our program," Sadie said.

Every two weeks, parents were taught about differences between higher education in the United States and that in Latin America. They also received information on financial aid, scholarships, dual credit options, noncredit courses and ESOL courses.

Parents also participated in mock English classes.

"Many commented that prior to this experience, they had felt intimidated to enroll in a community college’s ESOL classes," Sadie said. "After the mock classes, many expressed a desire to enroll at some point in their future."

Class participants were invited to a College Day visit at the Brookhaven College campus toward the end of the program.

"The College Day visit was remarkable," Sadie said. "Parents listened to a student panel of five current students, each with exceptional personal stories. [One of the panelists] made them realize that they, too, belong in a college setting and still have the opportunity in their lives."

The parents also had the chance to tour campus and use the ESOL language labs.

"This was an incredible experience for the parents as it allowed them to see the additional benefits of taking ESOL classes at Brookhaven College." Sadie said. "I believe the key aspect in creating a successful College Day at Brookhaven College was having the students become knowledgeable about what a community college can offer."

Class participants seemed to feel the program was successful as well.

One stated: “It made me think about my daughter's future."

Sadie said the program inspired one parent to begin considering community college for her 18-year-old son.

Another class participant said, "You guys gave us hope to continue our students and English classes."

And, Sadie said, some students intend to do just that.

"As a result of these classes, we had one mother enroll at Brookhaven College to continue her English studies," Sadie said. "She stated that the classes introduced her to the community college and made her realize that she is capable of taking the next step."

The College Awareness Class has become an integral part of Together We Learn, Sadie said.

"It allows us to continue working with our parents in preparing the families for their child’s education and to learn the necessary information to begin thinking about their child’s future."