NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Free English as a Second Language classes are now being offered at Issac E. Young Middle School, the City School District of New Rochelle recently announced.
The program is gaining popularity and drawing additional students every week.
The classes were launched after a series of conversations between Daniel Gonzalez, assistant principal at IEYMS, and Irene Reda, an ESL teacher at the school, according to a release from the district.
There was an obvious need for English language classes for the area's growing Hispanic population, Gonzalez said. Many are recent immigrants, don't speak English, and send their children to the New Rochelle public schools, he said.
Gonzalez and Reda invited prospective students to an orientation on Dec. 7 for an overview of the program and a placement test. Much to their surprise, more than 100 parents arrived to sign up, leaving Gonzalez no option but to move the orientation from a classroom to the auditorium, the release said.
"They wanted to understand what their children were experiencing so that they could better support their education," said Gonzalez. "There was obviously a need, much more than we expected. We tapped into something the community was looking for."
Classes began on Tuesday, Dec. 13. More parents came to sign up for classes, and interest continues to grow.
IEYMS is now offering two classes per night on Tuesdays and Thursdays for beginners and intermediate ESL students who are taught both English conversation and writing. Gonzalez plans to run four five-week cycles through June 2017. Approximately 115 students are enrolled so far.
The classes are taught by Reda and Elizabeth Goodwin, who teaches French at IEYMS. Because many of the adult students don't have babysitting for their children, Lauren Denninger, a special education teacher and facilitator, takes care of the kids while parents attend class.
The program has become so popular that Gonzalez is considering launching math and computer literacy classes. The idea, he said, is to empower parents to better understand and support their children.