Emine: Teaching from Turkey to Godfrey-Lee
Emine Gulbahar is an English as a Second Language student and part of a new program. Hollin De La Cruz is a program navigator for Kent ISD Adult Education. Emine and Hollin are our guests on this edition of Your Dream is Our Dream.
Emine Gulbahar dreams of getting back in front of a classroom helping students in special education as she did in her home country of Turkey. She found a pathway to help make her goal a reality through English as a Second Language courses and a brand new program that addresses West Michigan’s teacher shortage. Hollin De La Cruz, a program navigator for Kent ISD Adult Education joins our conversation.
>> Welcome to the Your Dream is Our Dream podcast where we celebrate student success, one dream at a time. This program is made possible by Kent ISD in partnership with WGVU.
I'm Joy Walczak. I have with me today, Hollin De La Cruz, Adult Education Program Navigator at Kent ISD, along with Emine Gulbahar, an English as a Second Language student who is also studying to be a parapro through this program. Thanks so much for joining us here today. Let's get started by talking first about Hollin and what you and your team do in Adult Education. You have so many ways to help students achieve their dreams.
>> Yeah. Thank you so much, Joy. So I work for Kent ISD Adult Education.
We offer classes for English language learners, also GED classes. And then we have a wealth of training available to our students both for English language learners and GED students. I am the program navigator to help our English language learners connect with training opportunities to get jobs in the field that they love that they are passionate about. And in so many instances, what they are already trained in. So we have a lot of things offered. All of our courses are free and we are constantly humbled and impressed by our determined students who have so much to offer.
>> And the students are really making some of their own dreams come true. And that's why we've invited Emine into our studio today to join us to share your dream First, would you let us know a little bit about your experience and what brought you here.
>> I came to US eight months ago. One of the questions in my mind was will I be able to work at the school again. I'm a person who gives great importance to education. And I came here from Turkey so that my children could get a better education. I've worked as a school counselor in my country for 15 years. I did my Master degree in this field. And in fact, my recent article will be published in the July issue of the International Journal of Psychology and Educational Studies. The topic of my article is Analyzing The Relationship Between Character Strength And Bulling In Adolescents. The article is to be published in English and I’m so excited. I came here first to improve my English. I have been taking English education in Miss Deborah Pitsch’s class at Kent ISD Adult Education for about 6 months. She's an incredible teacher and she helps me a lot in my development. One of these lessons, Miss Hollin came to our class and told about the paraprofessional training as a first step. This was exactly the course I was looking for. I will be able to both improve and apply my English. I was delighted when I was accepted in the course
Miss Hollin helped me a lot every step of the process and continues to help. The course has been going now for 6 weeks. Our teachers Miss Evie and Miss Stacey are doing a great job and they teach us the details of this profession and learning about a profession that I am very qualified for in Turkish and I'm now learning in English and this makes me extremely happy and in this program, I had a fortunate school experience at the Godfrey-Lee school. I am volunteer here and working in a special education class with Miss Brummels. I learned a lot from parapros in their special education classrooms in Godfrey Lee. It will be possible for me to apply here when my training is done. I hope so.
>> We hope so too. And I'd like to go back in just talk a little bit about that parapro training. I love hearing that you are a teacher and have been a teacher in your home country of Turkey for many years and it's wonderful to hear that you want that dream to continue here in the United States
Hollin, how is this program really connecting those two things, Emine’s dream and that possibility.
>> Yeah.So this is just one of our training programs that we've developed this year. The grant to offer these trainings is pretty new. So this role is also new for me For our paraprofessional training. We recognize that there is a huge need in the community for paraprofessionals in all schools. And so knowing that multi-lingual adults are needed everywhere, especially in education. This was a great opportunity for me to get students involved in the school system so that they can get their foot in the door. So many of our students are educated and have experience from their home countries and some of them just want to work with kids in are so excited to serve their community in that way.
>> It certainly sounds like a great fit for everybody and Emine. What is it that you love about teaching, why do you love to be a teacher.
>> I will be love to be a teacher because I love all students and when September comes and the new academic year starts. I will realize that my dream ill come true when I work at the school and see that I have done at least a little help for the students. Yeah.
>> And you have a daughter of your own and you have big dreams for her to here in the United States. Yes, to tell us a little bit about her and how she's helping you learn English at home.
>> I have two children and my son go to elementary school. And my daughter goes to preschool. She is a so fast! She is a very fast learner. They are fast learners together and I'm so excited for them.
>> As a teacher yourself, you must see that they have big dreams of their own and can you share with us a little bit about how education helps those dreams come true?
>> Miss Stacey and Miss Evie learn them a lot of stuff of profession and then I came to home and I help my children and help other children maybe in the future.
>> Sounds wonderful.
When you walk into a classroom, you said that you have students there from all over the world and many come with experiences of their own. How important it is for educators to actually ask students what they're really dreaming about and then creating programs that help them make those dreams come true?
>> I think it is so important that we as a community, we as educators recognize that the talent that exists in our classrooms. And I can honestly say that our teachers are great at that. We all recognize that if our students are presented challenges. They rise to the occasion. They're so good at just rolling up their sleeves and doing the work that needs to be done to put himself in a position to have a more prosperous life for them and for their families. There's such a rich tapestry of culture and experiences in the classroom that makes our school what we are and also gives us just a unique advantage as a school community. I'm super thankful to be a part of the team.
>> You said that you actually saw that there were people like Emine in your classrooms that were teachers trained in their own countries. And now they're here in our classrooms and there's a need in our community for teachers. So tell me a little bit about how you put two and two together to help make this program a reality.
>> Yeah.Some always seeking for opportunities for our students. I look for trainings and knowing that we have students of varying levels of English. I want them to find a career pathway that they can they can start from the beginning but really take off from there.
And at that point, the sky's the limit. And so knowing that there's such a huge need for paraprofessionals and that education is a great place to work. If you want to continue to be educated, whether it be with tuition reimbursement program, being able to have time with your children because you're on a similar schedule. In fact, two of our students are actually volunteering in schools where their kids attend. It just means the world to them to have that opportunity. And it's also beneficial for their families overall.
>> Can you tell me beyond the parapro certification, what other kinds of career opportunities is Adult Education providing for some of the students in our area.
>> Yeah, absolutely. So this year we were able to offer two sessions of a community interpreter training. So this is for our very advanced students who take a class to learn how to be interpreters professionally in community settings. So that would be in a medical, educational or social services. We've had two sessions of that. They just finished their second session of our I think it was around 18 students. We had an 82% success rate in the exam, which is huge. It's a hard exam at the end. And then we also have an industrial sewing program. This is offered for a full year because it's very long and ends in a certification. That's a partnership with GRCC and Public Thread and then paraprofessional is brand new. Emine is in the pilot group and I hope to offer it twice again every year. Once in the fall, once in the winter.
>> Does sound like a great opportunity money. Will you tell us a little bit about your experience as a teacher in Turkey.
>> Yeah. In my country. And I work with sometimes students and sometimes family. And I explain to family their students and their disorders and sometimes I am relaxing students And I work with both of them.
I understand you did a lot with diagnosis, right?
Diagnosis of different developmental delays?
Yeah. Different disorders and help the families make plans. Sometimes their family didn't accept this disorder and they are very sad. And I helped them.
>> By providing that information, you really helped them prepare for the future of their children, too, and that's all part of this whole dream experience, to bring together your talents and then also your opportunities to help not only realize your dreams but the student dreams of those who you're going to impact in the future. That's a beautiful thing.
You bet. And Hollin, as you look forward, what do you hope to do in the connection between students and their dreams. What your future plan for your students in? Well, the people that you helped through navigation in your program.
>> I always like to make sure that students know that when their class is finished our relationship still exists If they need help applying for a job I will help them through the application process. We do resume building workshops with West Michigan Works to make sure that they have a resume that showcases their new skills, new certifications for in the United States.
A lot of our students already have a very impressive resume. But to find work here it is important to have some relevant experience here to show that you are capable, especially with that language of serving different populations in Grand Rapids. Another thing I often help students with is applying to college. Sometimes GRCC to get more education, right. They finish with us and they want to continue. And sometimes it's similar fields that there already established in, but maybe they want to start something new. I've helped a student with a small business operation. He's getting started and just connecting them with different organizations. I always say it's not about what you know but who you know. So let's reach out. Let's ask a few people if they have resources. The worst that can happen is they say no or they don't respond. But usually it comes to something beneficial.
>> Thank you for doing that. Emine, how will you know when your dreams come true?
>> When September comes and the new academic year stars. I will realize that my dream will come true when I work at school and see that I have done at least a little bit for a student and maybe in the future I will go to college in the same school consular area.
>> Well, I certainly hope all of those dreams come true for you and we appreciate you being here, too, Hollin, to share with us how students can. Take part in our Adult Education programs here and realize all kinds of dreams. So thank you to both of you for being with us today and for dreaming big.
Thank you for having us.
Thank you. And thanks to everyone listening to the Your Dream is Our Dream podcast presented by Kent ISD in partnership with WGVU