What Adult Education Looks Like


Several PAE students earn Construction Institute Certificate

Several PAE students were among the first to earn a Construction Institute Certificate at SMCC this past fall.  Check out the article at Bangor Daily News.

Back row, from left, SMCC President Ron Cantor, Ambroise Bibang-Minko (Portland), Lazarus Donato (Portland), Luis Ramos Dubon (Portland), Adiel Nimbona (South Portland), Justin St. Germain (Portland), and Dan Belyea, the Maine Community College System’s Interim Director of Workforce Training. Front row, from left, James Kana (Portland), Arnaud Niyonkuru (Portland), Albert Valentin (Bowdoinham), SMCC Construction Technology Chairman Dave Eng, and Daniel St. Peter (Windham). The students are SMCC’s Fiirst Construction Institute graduates. (Courtesy photo)

Exhibit Gives Inside Look at Immigrant Life in Portland

This is the image for the news article titled Exhibit Gives Inside Look at Immigrant Life in PortlandAn exhibit about immigrant life in the Portland area created by English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes at Portland Adult Education will be on display at Portland City Hall from December 6-15.

The exhibit, titled Immigrants Down East, includes profiles of local immigrant leaders, immigrant-owned businesses and organizations important to immigrants. Students also wrote about their own experiences moving to Portland from other parts of the world.

The public is invited to hear presentations by students on December 6 from 4:30 to 7 p.m.  The exhibit may be viewed anytime during regular City Hall hours.

The exhibit features three African grocery stores, a Thai restaurant, a painting business begun by a Salvadoran immigrant, the Vietnamese Buddhist temple in South Portland and In Her Presence, a group that helps integrate immigrant women while working for social justice.  Students also profiled many organizations that help immigrants, including ILAP, Opportunity Alliance, the Portland Public Schools’ Multilingual Office and Furniture Friends.  Some students wrote personal accounts of their journeys to Portland and the challenges that they have faced.

Upper-level ESOL classes have spent all fall studying immigration to Maine.  They have learned about the history of immigration in the state, Mainers’ attitudes toward immigrants, the role of immigrants in Maine’s economy and ways that immigrants are changing American culture.

The Portland Education Foundation awarded a grant to Shoshana Hoose, a Portland Adult Education teacher, to create the curriculum.  Two other teachers, Nancy Fox and Linda Roberts, also worked on it.  The Friends of Portland Adult Education provided a grant to cover the costs of the exhibit.

Photo: The owner of Moriah Store on Cumberland Avenue greets customers in 14 languages.  The store is one of many places important to local immigrants that are featured in an exhibit by ESOL students at Portland Adult Education.  The exhibit will be at Portland City Hall on December 6-15.  Photo by Eliezer Moumbele Ngolo

Success Story: Sam Kaking

My name is Sam Kaking. I’m originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

I’m grateful to Portland Adult Education for contributing to the success of my career.

Before coming to the U.S., I studied and worked as an Electro Mechanical Engineer. When I arrived in Maine, I was feeling discouraged because I knew it was not going to be easy for me to return to my career. I had a foreign degree, and even though I had years of experience, without the help of PAE, finding work was not going to be easy.

In June 2016, I registered at PAE to improve my English fluency and vocabulary skills. Earlier this year, I enrolled in the New Mainers Resource CenterJob Class Program. This program not only helped me to gain more confidence in job interviews, but it also gave me a better understanding of how to market myself more effectively to employers. These are things I wasn’t quite sure about before.

I knew little about the American culture, such as body language and other gestures.

Pursuing my career, which seemed very challenging at the beginning, is now much easier. Right now I am pleased to say I am hired since last July by ON Semiconductor, formerly known as Fairchild Semiconductor as a full time Maintenance Technician. I really enjoy my job now and my new company!

Thank you to the Portland Adult Education team, instructors, administrators, and partners for your support!

2017 Graduation speech by Kelly

It is a great day for me and I feel so happy to be speaking to you today! Thank you so much for this privilege.

I am from El Salvador, which is the smallest country in Central America. My first language is Spanish and I never thought  I would learn English. NEVER NEVER!  Education is not free in my country and my parents worked very hard to pay for my college. After six years in college, I graduated and became a Lawyer. YES, a LAWYER! Then I got married and moved to the state of North Carolina. Can you think how I was feeling when I moved to this country without understanding the English language? I felt unsuccessful.

When my daughter Nicole was born in North Carolina, she was smaller than my hand. At 11 months old, she was transferred to Boston Children’s Hospital for open heart surgery, and at 20 months, she had a double lung transplant. The Boston hospital told me they needed to check her twice a month, so my daughter and I moved to Portland Maine to be closer to Boston. Even today, Nicole at six years old goes to the Boston Hospital at least twice a month.

Even though my parents taught me that education is the key to open the doors of success, every time I found a brochure from Portland Adult Education, I never opened it. I felt afraid to look dumb in front others for having a legal degree and not being able to understand the language in classes.

But one day, I decided to confront my fear and I called  Portland Adult Education.  It was one of the best decisions I made. When I finished the first semester, I couldn’t believe how comfortable I felt in the class and how much I learned. Not only was I learning English, but also my great Level 4 teacher, Nancy Fox, taught me that we can learn as adults, in a slow way, and that education is for all! JUST TRY IT!

Even though I came to this country with a lot of dreams and I was already motivated to take more classes at Portland Adult Education, I didn’t want to be enrolled for a high school diploma. I thought it would take too much time to get it and I already had my Bachelor’s degree. However, I was aware that to go to college, I needed to have more exposure to the English language, build my vocabulary and polish my reading and writing skills.

During one of my Level 5 classes, my wonderful teacher, Sara Staples said two MAGIC WORDS “SMALL GOALS”. As we know, ROME WASN’T BUILT IN ONE DAY; it took time to finish it!  To continue working on the language, I needed to set small goals, so I registered for Math classes.

My great Math teacher Jill uses the words A WHOLE CAKE to help students easily understand fractions. It sounds like funny words. Don’t think that we eat cake in classes  NO NO NO! WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DO IT! Thinking about my small goals and the pieces of a whole cake helped me to understand that a high school diploma will emphasize my skills in Math and English, skills that I can’t prove with my foreign degree. Thus, my small goals became the pieces of a whole cake! Today I am receiving the last piece of my cake!

Remember! It is never too late to get a high school diploma. It is just the right time and Portland Adult Education is giving you this opportunity! Take it and have your own cake! Even though English is your first language or it is going to be your second or third one, holding a high school diploma will give you more knowledge and this knowledge WILL NEVER HURT YOU! Don’t give up and keep going because the time to get a high school diploma is shorter than the struggling time of living without one!

I just want to say Thank you God for illuminating me to understand how life works to become a rainbow! Thank you so much to my parents in El Salvador, Mario and Milagro Flamenco, for showing me the way to succeed!

A special thank you to my daughter Nicole, who is my inspiration to be strong, and who understood that Mom had homework to do and we couldn’t play. Thank you to Mr. Raymond Ouellette for transporting my daughter and me to Boston Children’s Hospital for many years, even when it was an emergency. You are my family here!

A special THANK YOU to Heather, my Language Arts teacher, who helped me overcome my struggle with writing. You are an amazing teacher! A double, triple thank you to the administrative staff, teachers and volunteers at Portland Adult Education for  making this happen and for being my hope to have a life again!

Now… breathing in and breathing out, I want to say thank you so much to my teacher Arline because she always said if you have homework to do, breath in and breath out and say I CAN DO IT! AND I COULD.

Thank you very much!