Education for Life!
Newsletter of the Piedmont Adult School - August 2023
Highlights from 2022-23
Adult School Expo A Huge Success
In April 2023, Piedmont Adult School held its first-ever Expo at the Center for the Arts. The hugely successful event was an opportunity for community members to learn about the range of classes offered, meet instructors, and sample delicious food prepared by Adult School cooking teachers.
The Expo also featured a display of more than 70 pieces of artwork created by instructors and students in Adult School art classes.
ESL Program Launched
In fall 2022, Piedmont Adult School launched its English as a Second Language (ESL) program, offering free classes at beginning, intermediate and advanced levels. These classes help non-native English speakers increase their skills in reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar and pronunciation.
"We are excited to offer these state-funded English classes, to help students achieve their academic, professional and personal goals, " says Shannon Fierro, director of Piedmont Adult School. "There is a great need for ESL in our community, and we look forward to serving as many students as possible."
Congratulations To Our New US Citizen!
As part of the ESL program, the Adult School supported students in their preparation for the US Citizenship exam. PUSD employee Yudith Giler is an ESL student who took advantage of this opportunity, successfully passed the exam, and was awarded her citizenship on June 26.
Yudith immigrated to the United States from Venezuela 16 years ago with her husband and her son, who was 15 years old at the time. “Life was hard in Venezuela and there were not many good job opportunities,” she says. “I wanted security and a better life for my family.”
She started working for Piedmont Unified School District six years ago as a custodian. Yudith loves her job, and with the stability it offers, she is able to send money home to her relatives in Venezuela. Her son is also a citizen, and is working for PG&E as a project engineer.
Yudith says she was motivated to become a US citizen because she loves the United States, is happy to be here, and wants to feel like a “full American.” She is also eager to vote in elections.
What’s next? Yudith plans to continue taking ESL classes at Piedmont Adult School, and hopes to take the GED. “I am very grateful for the way everything has worked out,” she says.
High School Graduate Ready for the Next Step
Ricardo Sevilla has worked as a welder for 10 years and decided to obtain a certified welder inspector license in order to be eligible for a promotion at work. In order to take the required exams, however, he first needed a high school diploma. He used Piedmont Adult School's online program to complete the six courses he needed, and earned his diploma in the spring of 2023.
Ricardo plans to take the first of the three welder inspector tests this September. "It was challenging to complete my diploma while working full-time," says Ricardo, "but being able to complete the work on my own schedule made it possible for me. I'm excited to move on to the next step in my career."
What’s Ahead in 2023-24
Welcome New ESL Instructors
We are delighted to welcome two new ESL instructors to our team.
Community classes will be taught by Giena Vogel. Giena taught ESL classes in San Diego, and now works at Havens Elementary School as a reading specialist. Growing up, her grandparents spoke only Spanish or Korean, and both of her parents spoke English as a second language. As an English learner herself, Giena has a deep appreciation for others who are learning a new language.
Classes for PUSD staff will be taught by Jennifer Gulassa, who will be teaching our ESL classes for staff. Jennifer started her career teaching English as a Foreign Language in Italy, mostly to adult learners. She has taught middle school for almost 30 years, while also teaching language to adults. She is excited to return to teaching ESL and looks forward to getting to know her students.
Registration Open for Fall Session
Registration is underway for our fall session! New classes this fall include courses in gardening, wreath-making and poetry, as well as many new cooking, computer and iPhone classes. The school also continues to offer popular art, language, music, exercise and business courses.
Through the Adult School’s Creative Retirement program, special classes are offered to senior citizens (age 55 and over) at no cost. Courses include Exercise for Seniors, Fine Arts Media, and Needlework. These classes are held on Thursday mornings at the Veterans Hall in Piedmont and registration is required.
Adult School classes are open to all adults age 18 and over. Course offerings and registration can be found at www.piedmontadultschool.org or through the Moonlighter catalog, which is mailed to households in Piedmont and surrounding areas.
Instructor Spotlight: Jennifer Sirkus
This fall we are pleased to offer three different classes on seasonal wreath making, taught by Jennifer Sirkus. Jennifer is a floral designer, educator, and admirer of nature. She is the founder and owner of Wildpower Floral, which specializes in naturally dried floral decor for weddings and special occasions.
Jennifer grew up in Sonoma and had a small flower garden, so flowers have always been part of her life. She became interested in dried flowers during the Covid pandemic, and began making wreaths as mandalas that can adorn any door, wall, table, altar, or home space.
When not designing and creating works of art, Jennifer teaches floral workshops throughout the Bay Area. Her workshops are known to be joyful, engaging, & beginner friendly.
She also loves spending time near the water; whether stand-up paddle boarding or simply sitting on a beach, observing and listening to the power of the ocean waves.