LISD community ed partnership changing lives

LISD community education partnership changing lives through adult education programs
Posted on 05/23/2019
District News Release


DATE: May 23, 2019

LISD community education partnership changing lives through adult education programs

With the end of the 2018-2019 school year, it is a season of reflection on growth and achievements for many, especially LISD students. As the district celebrates the dedication and hard work across the district, the district also takes a moment to celebrate the growth and achievements of our adult learners through the LISD community education department.

What many do not realize is the commitment to learning in LISD does not focus solely on pre K - 12. In fact, the district believes so deeply in the concept of continuous learning that it partners with Community Action, Inc., a nonprofit organization, to offer free English as a Second Language (ESL) and GED preparation classes to adults looking to grow and seek greater opportunity. Community Action, Inc. receives federal grant funding that provides the staffing and resources for the program. LISD provides in-kind support by allowing them to use part of our facility for the classes. The partnership is changing lives.

Mallhver Tijerina Zuniga came to the United States just in the last year from Monterey, Mexico. She began taking GED prep classes in September 2018 and successfully completed her GED two months later. During that time, she also began taking ESL classes, and continues to attend at the M.L. Cisneros Education Support Center, the administration building for LISD.

In photo: ESL Student Mallhver Tijerina Zuniga

In photo: ESL Student Mallhver Tijerina Zuniga

“I started the program because I want to go to college. In Texas, many people speak Spanish, so that helps me a lot, but I need to learn English to go to college,” shared Zuniga. “I want to go to Texas State University and get a degree in IT.”

In ESL classes, she is joined by others from different countries who are also working to learn English. Their origins may be diverse, but they share a desire to learn English to more successfully integrate into our country and potentially open more doors to opportunities. Zuniga continued, “It helps us a lot, because if we want to get a good job, learning English is required.” Her impressive demonstration of English, as well as her well-developed vocabulary, does not hint at being newly arrived in this country.

In photo: ESL Instructor Ines Rivera-Silva

In photo: ESL Instructor Ines Rivera-Silva

Ines Rivera-Silva, Zuniga’s ESL instructor, started teaching originally as a GED instructor in 1992, but six years after that, she decided to focus on teaching ESL classes. Rivera-Silva shared, “I know by experience when you’re an adult, learning a second language is very difficult. You need someone who can explain it to you in your first language, especially the grammar.” Most of the students in the ESL class speak Spanish, although there are a few who speak other languages. Rivera-Silva is originally from Puerto Rico, and speaking Spanish is an asset when helping many ESL students.

Rivera-Silva’s father, Roberto Rivera, served in the US military during the Korean War. He used his GI bill to obtain a degree and become a science teacher. She describes the family struggled greatly before then; however, once her father began teaching, it transformed their quality of living. Her mother, Leonor Guzman, did not complete formal education beyond 2nd grade, but she greatly emphasized the importance of education with her children. After Rivera-Silva completed her degree at the University of Puerto Rico, she joined her sister here in the United States. She is carrying the torch passed to her by her parents, and hopes to share that passion for continuous learning with every learner in her class.

In photo:  Students in ESL Class

In photo:  Students in ESL Class

The classroom next to the ESL class is the GED preparation classroom and testing center. Piedad Dix has been teaching GED classes for 23 years--the last 20 through Community Action, teaching in San Marcos, Kyle, and Lockhart. “I really like to teach GED,” said Dix “I am a certified math teacher 6-12, but I began initially as a volunteer at San Marcos High School helping adults.” Since then, she has devoted her life to helping adults further their education through the GED program. “It opens a lot of doors for them, beginning with applying for jobs that can give them a better income. They feel good about themselves and can help their kids with their studies. They want to go to college. They want more for themselves.”

In photo: GED Instructors Norbert Vazquez & Piedad Dix

In photo: GED Instructors Norbert Vazquez & Piedad Dix

Dix serves more than 60 students a year. One of those students is Esmeralda Magallanez. She is originally from San Luis Potosi, Mexico. She has been in the United States for 20 years and is a resident of Luling. She would also like to take ESL classes, but she is focused now on obtaining her GED.

In photo:  GED Student Esmeralda Magallanez

In photo:  GED Student Esmeralda Magallanez

“I got my CNA, but I want to get my GED so I can go to college and study nursing,” said Magallanez. “I went to another class at another location, but when I had a question, the instructor could not help me understand with a good explanation. Here at the Lockhart GED class, Ms. Dix explains everything so well, she gives me a lot of support. I feel comfortable.”

GED students come as far away as North Austin and Canyon Lake to attend the classes offered by the LISD Community Education Department. They like the smaller class sizes and individualized attention they receive, which differs from many classes in larger cities like Austin.

Not all of the students come from far away. Angela Villareal lives in Dale, and she is a proud parent of four students who are Lockhart Lions, from elementary to high school. Being a mother of four, managing a household, and working can make studying a challenge, but Villareal is determined. She is proud to show that example to her children that education is important. Villareal shared, “I have a chance for better opportunities for me and my kids--me and my family.”

Villareal, like the others, also wants to go to college. She makes her own clothes and wants to study fashion design.

In photo:  GED Student Angela Villareal

In photo:  GED Student Angela Villareal

Dix truly believes the sky's the limit for her students, emphasizing the most important part is deciding to take action. “I really love my students. I’m always thinking about how to help specific people in different ways. Half of me sees this as a job, but half of me sees it truly as community service,” added Dix.

Both teachers and students really appreciate the use of the classrooms provided to support the adult learning programs. For some of the students, it is the first time they’ve ever stepped in a classroom. Some of the students come from rural areas in other countries that did not have the availability of teachers or schools for them to attend. At the M.L. Cisneros Education Support Center, they have access to an amazing facility, technology, and experienced instructional support.

In photo:  GED prep students

In photo:  GED prep students

In photo:  GED Angela Villareal using technology in class

In photo:  GED Angela Villareal using technology in class

“Lockhart ISD is fortunate to have an adult learning program,” said LISD Director of Community Education Karla Tate. “It is an honor to work with adults who want to improve their knowledge to gain better opportunities and enhance their lives. Norbert Vazquez, Ines Rivera-Silva, and Piedad Dix are a wealth of knowledge and have a great deal of experience working with adult students. LISD enjoys a valuable partnership with Community Action, Inc., to provide important classes to those in Lockhart and the surrounding area.”  

Superintendent Mark Estrada added, “With the help of partners like Community Action, Inc., we can work together to provide opportunities that will not only change the lives of these adults, but also improve opportunities for their families for generations. Many of the adult students are parents of our own students, so these programs are especially meaningful to the district.”

ESL classes are held Monday - Thursday, from 8:30 - 11:30 am and 12:30 - 3:30 pm at 419 Bois D’Arc Street in Lockhart. GED classes are held Monday - Thursday, from 8:30 am - 3:30 pm, and Fridays, from 8:30 - 11:30 am.  Additionally, Community Education added classes at Alma Brewer Strawn Elementary, 9000 FM 1854 in Dale. Both ESL classes and new Computer & Technology Classes are being offered. ESL Classes take place each Tuesday and Wednesday from 6:30 - 8:30 pm. Computer and Technology Class takes place each Monday and Thursday from 6:30 - 8:30 pm. During June and July, ESL classes will be offered at Alma Brewer Strawn Elementary Mondays through Thursdays from 8:30  - 11:30 am.

Anyone interested in learning more about the programs or how to register can get more information by contacting  Norbert Vazquez at 512-398-0251 or 512-398-0245.

The classes are administered by Community Action, Inc., of Central Texas in partnership with LISD. To learn more about this partner, visit


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