Over the last few years, the members of a group called Adult Leaders for Education have been active participants in conversations related to adult education in Little Village. This group, composed of adult learners, is connected to the Adult Education Subcommittee of the Little Village Education Collaborative (LVEC). Through an analysis of data, research and community feedback, they identified a lack of local Spanish literacy programs, in part due to a lack of financial resources that support these types of programs.
About four years ago, Luz Arteaga was walking with her youngest child to Telpochcalli Elementary School, as she did every morning. Her family had just gotten back to Chicago after spending a year in Mexico. She was feeling the need to do something that would keep her active and involved, and so she decided to register for an English class at Telpochcalli Community Education Project (Tcep). While she was there as a student, she learned that the Spanish literacy instructor would not be able to continue teaching the class. In that moment, Luz decided to take the challenge and teach the class herself. She talked to Maria Velazquez, Tcep’s Executive Director, about her idea.
Since then, Luz has been a volunteer literacy instructor at Tcep. “Maria gave me the freedom to determine the format and style of the class. I leaned a lot on teachers at the school for guidance. My youngest son was in first grade and I talked to his teacher in order to get materials and ideas for the class,” explained Luz. Luz also became a member of Adult Leaders in Education and is planning to be the advisor for a new cohort.
Recently, an opportunity through the Chicago Public Schools, specifically the Office of Counseling and Postsecondary Advising (OSCPA), has further strengthened these efforts. When funds became available and the opportunity was put on the table, LVEC jumped at the possibility to expand literacy classes that were, at that moment, only being offered at Tcep. The idea was presented to LVEC members and The Learning Center. Angelica Saucedo, Executive Director of The Learning Center, agreed to host literacy classes on the west side of the neighborhood, with Luz as the instructor. These new classes were finally launched on March 5th. “The classes will take place from September to June, every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 am to 12 pm,” Luz told us. The intention is to continue the classes after this first session ends, with registration for the next session taking place this summer.
Last year, Luz was recognized by the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition for her dedication to this work. As part of her future plans, Luz hopes to support all participants in obtaining their elementary school certificate from Mexico. “I connected with a local organization that helps with the tests and documents that they have to submit to get the certificate. They file the necessary paperwork in Mexico. I want to help all the students in my classes to do this. My goal is to prepare them as well as I can so that they can get their elementary, and maybe high school, certification. I want to motivate them to keep achieving their goals.”
For more information about the program, please contact Leticia Diaz, Adult and Early Childhood Education Pipeline Specialist at LVEC-Enlace, firstname.lastname@example.org