Elder Lisonbee

Member Position:

Elder Lisonbee

This letter is to share my thoughts of the Columbus Adult Education Center and Youth Programs. In early 2020, I was asked to start a Youth Program for the Columbus Education Center. Our objective is to help our teen-age refugee and immigrant youth enhance their English skills so they are better prepared to enter a post-secondary education program.

One of the greatest resources the Columbus Education Center brings to our students is the Reading Horizons software. Reading Horizons is a company headquartered in Kaysville, Utah that develops software to enhance English reading skills. Reading Horizons is the backbone of our Youth Program. These kids have varying levels of reading ability and many holes in their reading education, based on how long they have been in the United States and how old they were when they began attending American schools. Reading Horizons can help them fill in these holes and make progress regardless of their situations.
The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic actually brought about an individualized, remote program for the Youth that works very well for both the students and the volunteers. Students work independently on Reading Horizons. Individual volunteer mentors are assigned who work remotely with students via Zoom or Facebook Messenger and practice pronunciation, increase reading comprehension, and improve conversational English. This worked well during COVID and is now our go-forward program since the students often don’t have transportation to the school. The schedules of students and volunteers are most easily accommodated when only two need to agree to the timeframe. Students are also provided with gift cards as incentives for spending time on Reading Horizons and working with their mentors.

I love seeing our students succeed. One student was attending SLCC, but really floundering. Her mentor was able to connect her with the right resources at SLCC to enroll in classes she was truly interested in and to work through numerous issues unfamiliar to her that would have otherwise caused her to drop out of school. Another student, graduating from high school, was helped by her mentor to complete her Financial Aid application, become admitted to SLCC, and be accepted into the “One Refugee” program, which is essentially a four year, full-ride scholarship. Her future is bright with possibilities thanks to the help provided her. Another younger student is full of excitement about the future of his education because reading English is becoming so much easier as he works on the Reading Horizons software.

We have been blessed with many great resources, both financial and time-wise, in our community. I am excited to see these resources come together to help some very motivated young people create exciting, contributing futures for themselves and their families,

Marsha Adams/Youth Program Director

I have been with Columbus for a few months, with the opportunity to do English mentoring with Anita. Overall, the experience has been very beneficial, as it has helped me to teach, but also to be able to accommodate for a student’s certain needs. While there were some bumps in the road, I feel like we’ve overcome them, and that Anita is learning much. I’ve started to see an even greater love for writing since working with her, which has brought a smile to my face.

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