On Sunday, January 24, 2010 Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) attended a field trip breakfast at the Shalimar Dinner with parents of students from P.S. 144 in Forest Hills. At the breakfast, several parents, who had never done so before, ordered their meal in English as part of their ongoing course of study of conversational English.
In the winter of 2007, Assemblyman Hevesi was contacted by Siobhan Kyne, Parent Coordinator at P.S. 144, with an idea for a program to address the problem of parents inability to communicate effectively with the school and the resulting impact on their children’s education. After running the program for close to two years, Ms. Kyne said, “This has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, other than being a mother.”
The ESL program is a free program for parents and caregivers of students enrolled in P.S. 144 that runs from September through April and provides the enrollees an opportunity to learn conversational English to help them better communicate with their child’s school. The program currently has 17 parents, grandparents, and caregivers enrolled. When the course began, the language skills of these adult students ranged from limited to no conversational English, which made it virtually impossible to communicate with the school and other parents. Currently, every enrollee is able to converse in English and convey their child’s needs and concerns to the school.
The Principal of P.S. 144 Reva Gluck-Schneider said, “We are eternally grateful for this program. It assists our grandparents and parents in their ability to communicate with the school. It has been a wonderful experience for all those involved and I hope it continues for many years to come.”
“There are now several children attending a local school who will have their parents participate in their education when it was not possible before. The parents and administrators at P.S.144 are to be commended for this incredible program,” said Assemblyman Hevesi.