Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cristina's Story: "How SMAS Helps Me"

For Adult Education Week 2017, Miss Thompson's Pre-GED class wrote essays.  Here is Cristina Munoz Ulrich's.  Thank you, Miss Thompson for assigning the essay and to Cristina for writing and sharing it!

March 27, 2017


How San Mateo Adult School Helps Me

by Cristina Munoz Ulrich

            Before I start, I would like to tell you a little bit about my school. San Mateo Adult Education started one hundred and one years ago. According to the financial history of San Mateo Adult Education, “since our funding in 1917 as San Mateo Night School, San Mateo Union High School District has long prided itself as one the oldest and largest Adult Education programs in California.” Adult Education was different back then compared to what it is now. ESL classes were only used for basic education and they consisted of three portable classrooms that were too small to fit the entire student population. San Mateo Adult School was also funded based on student’s attendance. In 1993, San Mateo Adult School started building the Smart Center, and it opened in 1994.In addition, with the demolition of San Mateo High School, San Mateo Adult School was able to build sixteen classrooms and four support services rooms, costing the Adult Education Fund 2.5 million dollars. This project was completed in 2002.

Since then, San Mateo Adult School has been fighting to give better opportunities and facilities to the students. In fact, San Mateo Adult School now offers new programs for the students such as, computer education, adult basic education, High School Diploma (HSD), GED preparation, central Administration, and more. Our class from PRE-GED talked to Eric Sa’avedra, the director of HSD and GED classes, and he told us about the difference between those classes. He said, in HSD you study one class at the time, and when you have two-hundred credits you received your diploma. Some students take this class to transfer the credits of all the classes they took in their country, and some students take this class to finish their credits and receive their diploma. On the other hand, GED is an alternative to the High School Diploma; when students are eighteen-years-old and have not shown any interest in school or are unwilling to learn, perhaps they need help or a place to go. Without thinking twice, the school district transfers these students to adult education so they can finish their GED. The school district also helps ESL students who want to take their GED by helping them transfer into the program. Eric Sa’avedra also explained to us how San Mateo Adult School receives its funding. In order to receive it, the school has to give students two casas tests in one semester of classes. One test is given at the beginning of the semester, when students start their classes, and one at the end of the semester. If students’ scores improve in the second test, the school earns a bonus in funding from the state. Now, I would like to thank Mr. T, Tim Doyle, Eric Sa’avedra, and Carlota Agundis because we interviewed them, and now I understand more of how our school works.

            Now it is time to talk about how San Mateo Adult School is helping me. First, I’m from Mexico, and in my country I didn’t study English. I finished high school and studied business          administration for a short time. I couldn’t finish because I had to go to work to earn money for my family. When I decided to come to the United States, I didn’t realize how difficult my life would be without the right language. Here, I had to work as a janitor, cleaning bathrooms and offices. When I lived in Mexico, I worked in an office as a secretary. I started taking classes at San Mateo Adult School in 2009, but unfortunately, I couldn’t continue taking them because my dad was living with me at the time and he had an illness. So, instead of going to school, I dedicated my time to take care of him. In January 2014, he went back to Mexico and decided to stay there. One day, he said, “Daughter I’m not going back to the U.S.A.” In the middle of August 2014, he passed away. It was then when I decided to start my classes again at San Mateo Adult School. Since then, I have taken ESL classes, reading, writing, conversation, pronunciation, and now I’m taking PRE-GED classes. I know that I have been studying for a while at San Mateo Adult School, but I had started my ESL classes without understanding the language. I believe that I have improved a lot because this school offers the students all the support we need. My school is not only helping me to learn English, but it is also helping me to feel more confident in my community and in the American society.  

            Right now, my goal is to finish my GED and go to the college to study administration. I know that I have a lot of support to make my goal come true. I have talked to Patty, who is in charge of the career class in San Mateo Adult School, and Melina, who is in charge of the CSM program. They are helping me find classes to take at San Mateo Adult School that gives me credits that are transferrable to College of San Mateo. I’m very thankful for all the support I have been receiving here. Another way the school is helping me is to participate in our community. Being part of the student council gives me the opportunity to make presentations and communicate with students, teachers, legislators, and board members about our school. This is, for me, another way to develop skills that I’m going to need in college or if I decide to work. Nowadays, thanks to San Mateo Adult School, I feel very passionate about volunteering in my school, community, and my society.

            In conclusion, as you can see, San Mateo Adult School has been helping students since 1917. Perhaps in those days students only needed to understand the basic education. Nowadays, San Mateo Adult School offers intensive programs that are going to help you do what you decide to do. For example, go to the college, take HSD, GED classes, work, or simply have better communication with your family and in your community.


Learner to Earner: Roberto Ramirez

SMAS Student Roberto Ramirez recently transitioned from our school to a job in San Francisco.  I asked him to share a bit about his journey at our school and what helped him reach his goals.  Here is his story. 

Roberto Ramirez
Starting A New Life

My name is Roberto Ramirez and I­’m from Salamanca, Mexico.  I moved to California one year and ten months ago. To start a new life here in the U.S. was a difficult process for me, first, because of the language barrier and second, because you need a license to work as an Orthodontist in the United States, which makes it hard to find a job.

San Mateo Adult School
I started to study English as a Second Language at the San Mateo Adult School exactly one year ago. As a full time student, I took morning and afternoon classes and I had the chance to collaborate as a student ambassador, a student representative for the student council and as an active member in the lunch bunch club. All these extra activities helped me to face the overwhelming stress of learning a new language, meeting new people and feeling integrated in a new society.

Setting and Achieving Goals

Improving my English skills to get a job was definitely also one of my main goals.  I took job search classes and I learned to be more confident and learned about the process to get a job.  Finally, I finished school and I got a job in a community dental clinic as a Dental Assistant.  Right now I'm taking some courses to get licensed as a Registered Dental Assistant in California.
Perseverance and Focus

I think as an ESL student you need to persevere and be constantly focused on achieving your personal goals. As a professional in the medical or dental fields, you need to understand that in the U. S., it is not easy to get a job without a license and in order to get the license you need to have enough money to pay for an International Program at a university. If this option is not for you, you need to be flexible and open to getting a similar job or position; the important thing is to get your foot in the door.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Adult Education Week 2017

We celebrated! 

Everyone gave a lot of energy and effort to make Adult Education Week 2017 a beautiful celebration.  Student Leaders and Staff met in many planning sessions to create this year's events.  Teachers and students spent a lot of time preparing for the Success Fairs.  Together everyone worked as a team to create a successful week.

Here's what we did:

The week before - during Spring Break - student leaders went to Sacramento for CCAE Leg Day 2017.  They carried the message to Legislators that Adult Education matters and good schools need good funding.  You can read more about Leg Day here.

Highlights from CCAE Leg Day 2017

On Monday, we hung the beautiful banner that students made in 2016.

Student Council President Lupita, Vice President Edwin, Board Member Inna, and Secretary Sayaka

On Tuesday, day students posed for a special photograph to commemorate our 101st year and to create a special gift for Mr T.

SMASrs in red with Mr. T and his portrait of himself as a young teacher 50 years ago.

Mr T posed in the front.  He held a photo of himself when he started working for our school district, the San Mateo Union High School district fifty years ago. This is Mr T's last year as director of our school.  He is retiring in June.

Students and Mr T spell out "101" in red

On Wednesday morning, students danced the "traditional" SMAS Virginia Reel, led by Toshio.

Toshio was the "caller."  He told the dancers what to do:  Dos-I-Do, Sashay, Elbow-Swing!


Double elbow-swing!

On Wednesday evening, students posed for a special evening photo under a sunset sky.

Everyone gathered round the flag pole.

Then they danced the SMAS Virginia Reel.

Marina and Stephanie do an elbow-swing

Then they held a Success Fair.  San Mateo Deputy Mayor Rick Bonilla attended the event. 

Student Leader Denise welcomed everyone to the Evening Success Fair.
Behind her are Cristina, Marina, Mr. T, Deputy Mayor Rick Bonilla and Gabby

Students created display boards showing success in college, career, and community.  Students visited each classroom to the beautiful boards.  The boards were purchased by the Student Council. 

Here are a few of the wonderful boards:

Teacher Gia's Class

From Teacher Michelle

From Teacher Betty

From Teacher Gia

From Teacher Betty

Teacher Laetitia and the beautiful boards made by her students

On Friday morning, students held a morning Success Fair.  Deputy Mayor Rick Bonilla liked the Evening Fair so much he returned for another visit and met the Morning Student Leadership Team.

Mr T, Sayaka, Inna, Deputy Mayor Bonilla, Lupita, Edwin, Tim

Lupita welcomed everyone to the Morning Success Fair and presented Mr. T with a gift of the special 101 photo.

Lupita gave the special photo to Mr. T

Student Council President Lupita and Mr. T

Students toured the classrooms to see all the wonderful display boards and learn more about the many ways SMASrs can and do succeed in college, career and community.


You can do it!


Steps to a great career

College - how to do it!

Community choices!

If you can dream it, you can do it!

Highlights of the Morning Success Fair

It was a big and active and very successful week.  Everyone came together to celebrate our success as a school and as a community.  We shared our best with ourselves and the community. 

We know --

We see ---

We celebrate ---  Success!

The San Mateo Daily Journey published an article about our school.  You can read it here.

Highlights of the Evening Success Fair

Monday, April 17, 2017

Summer ESL Registration for Newcomers

Summer 2017 Semester is from April 25 through July 21, 2017.
Registration is a 2 days process – You must attend BOTH listed dates.
Morning registration begins at 8:30 am; Evening registration begins at 5:30 pm
Be on time. It is “First Come, First Served” policy
Monday, April 17 and Tuesday, April 188:30-11:30am ***************
Monday, April 17 and Tuesday, April 18 ***************5:30 – 8:30pm
Wednesday, April 19 and Thursday, April 208:30-11:30am ***************
Tuesday, April 25 and Wednesday, April 26 ***************5:30 – 8:30pm
Wednesday, April 26 and Thursday, April 278:30-11:30am ***************
Tuesday, May 2 and Wednesday, May 3 ***************5:30 – 8:30pm
Monday, May 8 and Tuesday, May 98:30-11:30am ***************
Monday, May 15  and Tuesday, May 168:30-11:30am ***************
Monday, May 15  and Tuesday, May 16 ***************5:30 – 8:30pm
Call 650-558-2100 for more information.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

SMAS Success at CCAE Leg Day

CCAE Leg Day 2017

Sayaka, Inna, Edwin, and Lupita at CCAE Leg Day
On Tuesday, April 4th, a team of SMAS leaders went to Sacramento for CCAE Leg Day.  (Pronounce "Leg" like "Ledge.")  

Tim Doyle and Eric Saavedra, SMAS Assistant Directors along with Student Council President Lupita, Vice President Edwin, Secretary Sayaka, and Board Member Inna represented our school.

Leg Day is short for Legislative Day. A Leg Day is a day to visit legislators.  Many groups and organizations have a Leg Day once a year.

CCAE is the abbreviation for California Council for Adult Education.    CCAE represents students, teachers, administrators and community members who care about Adult Education. 

SMAS Team Visits Legislators in Sacramento

On this day, students, teachers, and administrators visit Legislators in Sacramento, the capitol of California.  They talk to them about Adult Education.   They explain why Adult Education is important.  They explain that Adult Education supports the people of California.  Adult Education helps people succeed in college, career, and community.  They tell the Legislators that in order for Adult Education to support the people of California in this way, it needs good financial support.  Good funding supports good education.  Good education supports good health and economy.

Lupita, Sayaka, Edwin, and Inna
in our state's beautiful Capitol building
Edwin, Sayaka, Inna, SMAS Assistant Director Tim, and Lupita
in front of California Governor Jerry Brown's office

California Government

The Legislators are our elected representatives.  Citizens of California elect the Legislators to make decisions about our state for all the people who live here.  Legislators make decisions about money - taxes and spending.  They make decisions about education, health care, roads, safety, transportation.  They make laws to keep the people of California safe and healthy in body, mind, and economy.  The Legislature is like the Congress of California.  The Governor is like the President.

Great Day in the Capitol

Lupita with California Department of Education
Director of Adult Education Chris Nelson
Before they visited the Legislators, the Student Leaders and SMAS Assistant Directors prepared for their visits.  They met with other students and teachers and administrators from other schools.  CCAE helped everyone get ready. 

Our group also met with California Department of Education Adult Education Administrator Chris Nelson.  In the past, he was the Director of Oakland Adult School.

Burlington English was a sponsor of CCAE Leg Day.
Here's Miranda of Burlington English
with Edwin, Sayaka, Tim, Lupita, and Inna.
Thank you, Miranda and Burlington English, for your support!

Student Council President Lupita
in front of California Capitol in Sacramento
Here is what SMAS Student Council President had to say about CCAE Leg Day 2017:

In Sacramento, our Student Council talked about the importance of San Mateo Adult School and why we need to keep it open for everyone. 

Each of us told our story to give them some of our history.      I told them, SMAS is like my second home and how proud I feel to be the Student Council President.

Lupita speaking up for Adult Ed!


SMAS changes our lives for the better. Now I can speak English and I have been doing better in job interviews. And l can understood the culture in USA.    I have new goals now that SMAS has helped me succeed. I want to get my GED and go to Community College.

We all depend on the school to help us with our education goals and its so important for our community.