Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Celebrating the City of San Mateo's 125th Birthday!

City of San Mateo Celebrates 125th Anniversary with "September Nights on B Street" 

The City of San Mateo is turning 125 years old! Join in commemorating San Mateo's quasquicentennial with pop-up dining, drinks and dancing in downtown.

There will be free live music, dance lessons and entertainment for the whole family during September Nights on B Street - the City's newest downtown event series Thursday evenings from 5-8 p.m. on September 5, 12 and 19.
Grab take-out from a local restaurant and join outdoor pop-up dining on B Street between Second and Third avenues. The street will be transformed into an outdoor dining pavilion featuring tables and chairs beneath the twinkle lights. Beer and wine will be available for purchase on site. 

Visit the September Nights on B Street web page to find out more, including the band line-up and entertainment!

Schedule of events, 5 - 8 p.m. each night:
  • Thursday, September 5: Historic Council Reenactment & Dueling Pianos, Waltz
  • Thursday, September 12: Trivia Time & West Coast Swing
  • Thursday, September 19: Trivia Time & Latin Night: Let's Salsa

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Meet New Assistant Director Lori Parris

Meet Our New Assistant Director Lori Parris!
Lori smiling in front of the SMART Center

Our new assistant director Lori Parris is excited about education - and we are excited to have her as part of our team!

Lori has a lot of experience as a leader in both education and business.  She has been both a Principal of an Adult School(Napa) and an Assistant Principal at a comprehensive high schools(East Bay). And before that, she was the director at a technology company.  She understands that it is important for people to feel good about what they are doing and learning  and she looks for innovative ways to support our community.
Lori obtained her Bachelors Degree in Computer Science and a Masters Degree in Education. After working in the software and manufacturing industry in Canada for many years, her journey brought her to Silicon Valley where she had a wonderful career.  

But her passion was Education, so she is now doing what she loves where leadership and creativity are important - Adult Education!  She has taught in and developed curriculum for GED, High School Diploma and Business and Computer Application programs. Lori oversees Career Education, High School Diploma, GED, Fifty Plus, and other community programs.

She is also the mother of two teenagers.  She understands the work, life and family balance that so many SMAS students must maintain.  And like so many of our students, she is bilingual.  She speaks both French and English.  She also loves traveling and has visited many countries.  

Teacher Cynthia sat down with Lori to ask her a few questions.  Here are her answers: 

How long have you been in Adult Ed?

10 years

What you like about being in AE?

I love helping staff and students succeed  while designing programs with amazing support services

Where did you grow up?

Montreal, Quebec - Canada 

What was your favorite thing about school?

Learning and Growing as a person

What do you like to do on the weekends?

Biking and Dancing 

Lori’s office is in the SMART Center - on your left in the corner as you walk through the door.  If you see her in the SMART Center or on campus, please tell her hello and welcome!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Get to Know Teacher Mary Weng

San Mateo Adult School staff bring a wealth of skills and experience to the job.  This enriches our community and the learning experience.

 Each person is unique with their own stories.  

Here are Teacher Mary's:

Her SMAS Story

What do you teach now at SMAS?
I currently teach ESL Beginning Low in the morning, Listen and Speak Beginning
High on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and ESL Beginning and Literacy in 
the evenings.

How long have you worked at SMAS?
I have worked at SMAS since January 2005 - 14 ½ years.

Where else have you been a teacher?
I have been a teacher at U.C. Berkeley's Newcomer's English Program, in 
Mexico - Mexico City and Cuernavaca, in Taiwan, and at more than 15 private 
and public schools in the Bay Area. 

What other jobs have you had?
I am also a teacher trainer, mentor, and field supervisor for student teachers 
from U.C. Berkeley, San Jose State, San Francisco State, 
University of San Francisco, Notre Dame de Namur University, and Santa 
Clara University. I have trained student teachers to become teachers here in 
the U.S. and abroad. I worked for IES Language Foundation for 12 years, and I 
have trained foreign language teachers for public and private schools 
throughout the Bay Area. I was also a workshop presenter for IES Language 
Foundation and the Archdiocese of San Francisco. I have been in the 
restaurant business for 32 years - in Taiwan, Mexico, and in the U.S. 
I was in the produce, meat & seafood market business for several years. 
I was also in other types of businesses as well: graphic designs, clothing 
designs, toy sales, etc. 

What do you like about teaching at SMAS?
I love teaching at SMAS because I enjoy working with adult learners who 
are eager to absorb new concepts. Students share their life experiences with 
me and their classmates, and we all become richer because of that. We all grow together as friends and family, and we bond through learning. It is immensely rewarding to work at SMAS.

Her Personal Story

Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and raised in New York and San Francisco.

What did you study in college?
I initially studied business at U.C. Berkeley, but, later, I decided to major in 
English Literature with a minor focus on foreign languages because I wanted to 
become a writer in multiple languages. I have also studied at Tunghai University
(Taichung, Taiwan), San Jose State University, Universidad Autónoma 
del Estado de Morelos (Cuernavaca, Mexico), and Instituto Cultural México 
Japonés de Morelos (Cuernavaca, Mexico).

Do you speak other languages?
Officially, I have studied Mandarin, Cantonese, English, French, Italian, 
Spanish, and Japanese. I have written articles, stories, recipes, manuscripts, 
and poetry in English, Chinese, Spanish, French, Italian, and Japanese. I am 
currently working on a children's story in multiple languages. 

How did you learn them?

How did I learn all these languages? My school counselors encouraged 
me to study other languages when I struggled to speak English as a new 
immigrant. I still distinctly remember a conversation with my high school 
counselor, Mr. Ed Barton. He told me that I had to study a foreign language 
in order to be accepted into a university. I replied, "But English IS a foreign 
language to me!"  He laughed out loud, literally. I would like to visit Greece next. So, guess what flashcards I'm carrying around with me?
I practice different languages every day. It is not a task or an assignment; 
it is a lifestyle. Before I travel to a new country, I would study basic phrases 
and expressions. When my daughters and I travel, we would prepare 
flashcards for each of the languages we would use in each country. 
Before our trip to Europe, we studied basic phrases in Danish, Russian, 
Finnish, Estonian, Swedish, German, and, of course, English, French, 
and Italian.

Do you have kids?

I have two daughters -  Diana and Lizzy. They are classically trained dancers 
and musicians. They have very extensive training and performing experience in 
Mexico, Spain, Cuba, and throughout California. 

My daughter Diana just returned from a 5-week humanitarian and leisure trip 
to several countries in Africa. She came home and shared her experiences of 
speaking Arabic, Egyptian, and Swahili. 

My children are committed to a lifetime of service, bringing their performances, 
their work, and their love to charity and community events here in the U.S. and 
abroad. They have traveled to many orphanages, hospitals, senior care facilities,
etc., here and abroad, and participated in countless fundraisers and volunteered
for local, national, and international organizations such as Second Harvest, 
Samaritan House, St. Anthony Foundation, Locks of Love, Habitat for Humanity, 
American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Hep B Free, Children's Miracle 
Network, Self Help for the Elderly, Salvation Army, Volunteer Solutions, Love 
Volunteers, and many more. I am extremely proud of all they have done to 
benefit and help others and also their dedication to a lifetime of service. They 
were raised with the belief that if they are blessed in their lives, they should 
share their blessings.

Advice for Others

Do you have advice for students about learning languages? 
About doing new things?

My advice to students learning English is to practice every day. 
I always challenge my students to study for seven minutes every day 
outside of school, even during weekends and vacations. It takes passion, time, 
and dedication to learn any new skill. Practice makes perfect! Never give up!

What keeps you strong?
All the people who smile back in my life keep me strong. A smile does so 
much for me: physically, emotionally, and psychologically. I also live to make 
a difference in this world, no matter how small. An act of kindness, a hug, a 
word of encouragement, and a smile are things that are free yet can impact 
people in small ways and big. I try to encourage people to do one kind deed 
every day. It can be something as simple as holding a door open for someone, 
or just offering a smile. The rewards you receive spiritually are ten-fold.

What do you like to do for relaxation and fun?

I enjoy learning new things, doing arts and crafts, making hand-made gifts for 
people, cooking, and, of course, eating, and traveling. I love music, so I enjoy 
going to music festivals and concerts. My most recent music festival was the 
49th Ukulele Festival in Honolulu, Hawaii, on the island of O'ahu. I took my first 
ukulele lesson and learned to play two songs. It was an amazing experience.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

SMAS Student Council and Elections 2019

Student Council at SMAS

San Mateo Adult School is one of the few Adult Schools to have a Student Council.  Student Councils give students a voice in discussion and decision making at school and in the community.

Twenty Plus Years of  Democracy in Action

Our school has had a Student Council for over 20 years.  Former SMAS Assistant Director started our Student Council. He also started our International Day and Night events. For many years, Teacher Lisa Dolehide was the Advisor.  She helped to build up the structures and traditions.

Now Teacher and CTE Coordinator Stephanie Kriebel is the Advisor.  With her support, Student Council is expanding into new areas and taking on new goals. 

Because SMAS has classes in both the day and the evening, we have Morning and Evening Student Councils. The two Councils work together to meet the needs of the community.   ESL, GED, and High School Diploma students vote and run for office.  This is the Student Council section on the SMAS Website.

Accomplishment, Service, Growth

Student Council accomplishes a lot.  They coordinate, organize and lead events.  They hold fundraisers for communities in need.  They educate students and community.  They represent our school at School Board meetings and local events.  They meet with elected leaders on the city, county and state level. You can read more about such accomplishments here

Student Council officers learn and grow through this process.  They develop and sharpen leadership and community building skills.  Their English improves.  And their social and professional networks expand.

New Election Process

This year, Student Council decided to change the date of elections.  Usually they are held at the start of the school year in September.  This year they were held in June. In this way, the new officers can prepare for the year ahead and be ready when the Fall Semester begins in August.  

Candidates campaign for a week.  Then they share their plans and ideas at a Candidate Forum.  Forums are held in the morning and the evening.  The day after the Forums, the students vote.  The new officers serve for a year.

New Officers for 2019-20 School Year

Morning Student Council Leadership Team:
President: Cejana Neiva
VP: Nadia Fontas
Secretary: Flavia Tassinari
Board Advisor: Jesus Duenas

Evening Student Council Leadership Team:
President: Elena Pulido
VP: Vanessa Santos
Secretary: Marcus Mariano
Board Advisor: Yuehao Wang 

Photos from Election Season for the 2019-20 School Year

Morning Candidate Forum:

Ceijana speaking at the Morning Forum
Alt text:  Woman in glasses speaking and gesturing

Flavia at the Morning Forum
Alt Text:  Smiling woman with hand on podium

Nadia speaking at the Morning Forum
Alt Text:  Woman holding microphone

Jesus speaking at the Morning Forum
Alt text: Man gesturing and holding microphone


Current Morning Student Council President Shelley
explaining how to vote via computer to SMAS students
Announcing New Officers

2019-20 Morning Student Council Team
Advisor Stephanie Kriebel
Officers Nadia, Flavia, Ceijana, Jesus
Director Tim Doyle

2019-20 Evening Student Council Team
Elena, Vanessa, Marcus
and Advisor Stephanie Kriebel

Prize Winning Essay: "It Is Up to You" by Tomohiko Kino

Tomohiko Kino
Alt Text:  Smiling man in
baseball hat and grey sweatshirt
Tomohiko Kino is a SMAS Success Story wrote a prize-winning essay.  He won 3rd place in the San Mateo County Fair Writing Contest:  Division 337 "The Immigrant Experience:  Short Story, Essay, or Monologue."

Tomo, as he is called, is from Japan.  He came to the US in September of 2017.  He started at High Intermediate level in January of 2018.  He studied with Teachers Alesha, Katherine, Jessica in the morning and Patricia's and then Lisa's writing classes.  He took Patricia's writing class for two semesters before he began Lisa's Writing Intensive class.  Now he continues his English learning with the SMAS Distance Learning program while he works full time.

I asked Tomo if he had advice for students who want to improve their writing.  He answered, "Keep writing every day.  Simple sentences are okay. It is important to continue to write the sentences. I wrote the sentence everyday at least between 3 to 5."

Here, with his permission, is his winning essay. 

It Is Up to You
by Tomohiko Kino

Being an immigrant gives you a different perspective. In particular, if you do not speak the language, you have a lot of problems. This is my experience when I did not speak English well. I have been in the U.S. now for one year and a half. I came here with my wife because she transferred her work from Japan. Consequently, I quit my job as a mental health care counsellor because I wanted to support her job. 

The morning I first arrived at the SFO airport with my wife, it was nice weather, warmer than in Japan. We came out of the arrival gate, and took a yellow colored taxi in front of the gate. We had 4 large suitcases and 2 small bags, so the taxi was full. During the taxi ride, I was looking out of the window. We traveled toward our new residence in Redwood City. It was difficult to find the place because we only had the address and our phone did not work, and the driver did not know the area much either. Although the driver did not find the place, he wanted to drop us off, and I was worried about the meter because I got the feeling that the number was rising briskly. When we paid the fare, he began to calculate, and he told us to pay 1.5 times the fare. I could recognize that the meter showed a specific price, but he told us that it had nothing to do with it. He said, "I told you that you needed to pay 1.5 times the fare before you got in the taxi." He and my wife were talking emotionally, but I could not speak well. When we decided to pay, he requested a tip, so we got even more tired. We had no choice but to pay the price he asked. My wife spoke English very well, but even with her English we could not communicate well with the driver. Therefore, I felt worried about my future because my English was not as good as I thought it was. 

The first month in the U.S. was very tough for me because I had to talk with Americans, such as asking at the leasing office, shopping at the supermarket, and taking the driver's license test. I often prepared some questions in advanced if I wanted to ask something, but I could not understand what they answered in most cases. As a result, I was afraid to talk with someone in English. Although I tried to study hard, studying made me feel less confident. When I was depressed, I reflected on my international co-workers in Japan. I used to work at a beef bowl restaurant with them. Some of them were students from Vietnam, and others were Nepalese who came to Japan for their husbands' work. As I worked alongside them, I occasionally did not understand what they were saying and watched them struggle communicating with Japanese customers. However, they were such hard workers and positive although they were busy because they had to go to school after work. Moreover, most of them liked Japan and the Japanese language. I remember their smile was so impressive. When I reflected on this experience, I realized that I did not make use of my training as a mental health counselor. I was not prepared on how to deal with my newfound American life. I thought that I could and should learn from their attitudes. 

Furthermore, I realized that I could talk to people who were from other countries. When I realized that many people here did not speak English well, I started to go to the San Mateo Adult School. There were many immigrants who had some English problems like me. They were enthusiastically studying English, so it was a good stimulus for me. In particular, I was impressed by a man from South Korea. He came here with his wife and son, and he took a break from work to support his wife's job. He was very talkative and friendly. He also invited me to participate in an English conversation group at the library. When we conversed, the conversation was often unsmooth, but it was very fun. I think that we shared similar situations and felt compatible. He was crazy about golf, so he did not attend class much, instead choosing to spend his days playing golf with other players as a way to improve his English. He knew that he had only one year in the U.S., so he really enjoyed his life. I will not go back to my country soon, but I figured out that it is important to do something with enjoyment like my South Korean friend. 

In conclusion, I think my experience in America has been a great experience in the last year and a half, but I am still struggling to speak English. However, I realized that attitude is more important than language skills. I am looking for a job now, and I am thinking about taking some classes in college. I will try to be positive and cheerful like those who inspired me. In the future, I would like to contribute to society and to immigrants' lives by using my own experience.