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Families given ‘Even Start;' Learning English together
The Patriot Ledger
March 22, 2003

RANDOLPH - In one room, Trisha Norton is reading to a group of pre-school children a story about a trip to the library. Across the hall, their parents are learning about using the library and the post office.

Both are also learning English at the same time in the ‘‘Even Start'' program.

The idea of the program is for the children and the parents to help teach each other.

‘‘Hopefully, the children will help their parents a little bit, but the parents will help the children as well,'' said Karen McCabe, the program coordinator.

The weekday morning program started earlier this year and has 16 adults and 19 children, McCabe said. Located at 51 Diauto Drive, the program is run by the Randolph Community Partnership, a coalition of community groups and businesses that has sponsored an evening classes to teach English to adults for the past five years.

The students in Even Start are people who couldn't attend the evening program because of lack of space, their jobs or their child care responsibilities, she said.

Adults in the program come from varied backgrounds, McCabe said. They were born in China, Haiti, Guatemala and Peru. Some
have been in this country a long time, others are recent arrivals. Some came to the program speaking some English, others know
only a few words.

‘‘For a lot of them, the goal is to get a job or a GED,'' the high school equivalency diploma, McCabe said.

Roxanna Funes of Randolph is one of the adults in the program. She came to America from Guatemala 15 years ago but hasn't
had a chance to take English classes until now.

‘‘I need to speak more English,'' Funes said during a break between classes.

‘‘I need to help my daughters with their homework and talk with people in the community,'' said Funes, whose daughters are
Andrea, 12, and Paula, 7.

McCabe said the desire to help their children is ‘‘a huge goal'' for the adults.

The classes are organized around topics, and are taught in English.

‘‘We try to discuss a topic, like the community, and the vocabulary works its way in,'' McCabe said.

In addition to the classes, the program uses computer software for instruction, which also helps students pick up computer skills,
McCabe said.

Once a week, the parents and children participate in programs together, from making valentines to writing a letter to a family member. On Friday, they went on a field trip to Randolph fire headquarters.

The free program is funded by a four-year Even Start Family Literacy Grant from the state Department of Education, but the
program must raise matching funds from the community, McCabe said.

Donations to date have come from the town's the school system, CVS and individual donors, she said.

McCabe said the program can accommodate between 20 and 25 adults, and is still accepting additional families.

In addition to its fund-raising, the program is also seeking donations of childrens' books, toys and art supplies. Donations
are tax deductible.

For more information on the program, call 781-986-8654 or 781-961-8888.

Fred Hanson may be reached at fhanson@ledger.com.

Copyright 2003 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Saturday, March 22, 2003