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.


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