Beginners English classes to continue
This past Wednesday was to have been the final introductory English language class for a group of non-native English speakers meeting weekly over the summer in Flandreau. Bienvenidos a Brookings, the Moody County Museum staff and former Fajitas owner, Nitza Rubenstein, worked together with Flandreau Public Schools staff to offer the first nine of the 16 lessons available. Organizers from each of the entities felt that would be more than enough and participants would be ready for a break.
They were wrong.
Dozens of adult learners asked that the courses please continue through fall and through, at the very least, the end of the 16-week education plan. So many who are new to the country and to the local area are desperate to learn to speak English and there is still a long way to go.
Rubenstein spent a significant amount of time finding and encouraging people in the Spanish speaking community to attend. She also reached out to local organizations, members of city government, emergency services, and law enforcement to provide useful information and resources to the students.
How the classes have worked thus far — Bienvenidos purchased 15 study manuals at the start of summer, so only some of the students have had access to the textbooks. Class lessons otherwise have been shown via video created by SDSU professor Maria Ramos-Garcia. The class itself is led primarily by Flandreau School’s ELL coordinator Jenn Rieff and FHS para Jose Martinez.
Children meanwhile play nearby as Museum Director Caitlyn Drietz provides a watchful eye and MCHS Vice President Susan Ahlers ensures all runs smoothly.
The course is a much needed opportunity to learn and connect throughout the broader communities of Flandreau and Moody County as there are a growing number of multilingual families looking to call the region home, either permanently or temporarily. In Flandreau alone, there were over 115 Spanish speaking children in the public school district this past year. It is a number that fluctuates but that grows nearly every fall.
“The Museum is supposed to represent all aspects of the community in Moody County so it’s good to be able to reach out to a new audience, have them be a part of what we do, and have us be more active and involved in the community,” said Drietz.
Rieff and Martinez agree, saying the classes are an invaluable resource that let families new to town and perhaps struggling, especially due to the language barrier — to know that the community is here to support them and provide them easy access to those resources.