Sussex Tech adds locations, classes for growing ESL program

Jarek RutzEducation, Headlines

Sussex Tech expects about 1,000 students in its adult education ESL course this year.

Sussex Tech expects about 1,000 students in its adult education ESL course this year.

Sussex Tech’s Adult Education Division is expecting to double its enrollment for the second year in a row in an effort to help First Staters learn English.

Because of the popularity of its Education English as a Second Language (ESL) course, the division is adding two new locations and a few more classes to the course schedule.

Sussex Tech Adult Ed ESL classes are for students 16 years and older.

In 2022, the course had 588 students, a 119% increase from the previous year, and the program is expecting to reach 1,000 students this year, according to Kelly Whaley, supervisor of adult education at Sussex County Vocational Technical School District.

Here are the classes and their locations that are available:

  • Sussex Tech Adult Ed, 17099 County Seat Highway in Georgetown (morning and evening classes)
  • Phillip Showell Elementary School, 41 Bethany Road in Selbyville (evening classes)
  • Bridgeville Public Library, 600 West Cannon Street in Bridgeville (morning classes)
  • Georgetown Public Library, 123 West Pine Street in Georgetown (morning classes)
  • Laurel Public Library, 101 4th Street in Laurel (morning and afternoon classes)
  • Seaford High School Library, 390 N. Market Street, Ext. in Seaford (morning and evening classes)
  • Selbyville Public Library, 11 South Main Street in Selbyville (morning classes)

Whaley said there’s students of all ages, ranging from 16 to folks in their 70s. 

The classes are three hours, twice a week. 

“Our schedules are very flexible to meet the students where they are,” Whaley said, “because they’re working and raising a family.”

Sussex Tech’s Adult Education Division offers solutions to enhance Delawareans’ lives and careers, including career training to receive credentials. 

Whaley pointed out that a fair amount of students in the ESL class also go on to attend other classes specifically designed for English learners, like customer service, welding, home health aide, introduction to dental assistance and more. 

Students can work towards certifications in those areas to boost their career-readiness.

“These students are trying to make a better life for themselves and their family, and learning English is a very important first step in that to help them obtain better jobs,” Whaley said. “It’s very, very rewarding. They work so hard and they’re so appreciative of everything that we do for them.”

The adult education division is funded by grants distributed by the Delaware Department of Education, which allocated a few hundred thousand dollars a year to Sussex Tech. 

Along with 28 teachers, the adult education division at Sussex Tech has three paraprofessionals. 

“This helps them to be able to support their family,” Whaley said. “Especially when they move on to something like a welding class and earn a certificate that they can use to get a higher paying job.”

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