Citizenship, ESL courses granted federal aid

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – Residents looking to become U.S. citizens or improve their English-speaking skills soon will find even more opportunities within the city.

Dearborn Public Schools’ Adult and Community Education program recently received a federal grant for nearly $100,000.

“We are very happy to be one of only 75 organizations out of hundreds that applied to receive this funding,” said Carole Wells, adult education supervisor. “I feel our selection to receive this grant says a great deal about the quality of our program and success we are having in preparing people to be legal citizens of this great country.”

The additional funds – awarded by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services – will be used to hire an additional civics-focused English as a second language, or ESL, teacher during the day, a citizenship teacher for the evening and to update a computer lab at Salina Intermediate School.

“The project itself will be starting the winter semester and also the spring semester,” Wells said. “This is just a one-time shot. The purpose of the grant is to improve opportunities for lawful residents.”

Wells expects 160 permanent residents to enroll in the citizenship course, and statistics indicate 80 percent will achieve citizenship or show progress, she said. Currently, about 700 people register per semester for ESL courses – which max out at 30 students per class – and 60 percent show progress.

Since the adult education programs already run on a grant-based budget separate from the rest of the school district at less than $1 million per year, Wells said the temporary 10 percent raise will help the popular program.

“This is not what I’m used to running on,” she said. “It affords me the opportunity to upgrade the lab. Hopefully we’ll provide opportunities for more students wanting to prepare for citizenship.”

The Adult Education Department also offers a preparation class for a General Educational Development credential, a high school completion program for an adult education diploma and seven certificates through the medical and nursing program; officials plan to start a dental assistant program this winter. The department also recently started an emergency medical technician program with the Life Skills Training Institute.

“The offices and nursing homes we go to, our students get great compliments and often get hired right in,” Wells said.

Day classes for the various programs meet for two hours Monday through Friday for 12 weeks at Salina, while the evening classes take place Tuesday and Wednesday for three hours over 15 weeks at the Michael Berry Career Center.

Registration for the expanded winter semester runs from Jan. 3 through Feb. 8, although the courses run from Jan. 24 to April 15. The spring semester goes from April 15 to July 22. Courses cost $1,550 per person for a semester.

For more information on the programs go to

(Contact Chris Jackett at