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Lifelong Journeys: #ElevatingAdultEd2024

Join us for #ElevatingAdultEd2024 where we celebrate our learners' stories—from ESL triumphs to high school milestones and CTE classes where careers and hobbies are crafted anew. Every story is an inspiration, a testament to lifelong learning's power to transform.

Aidet Martinez’s journey through Silicon Valley Adult Education (SVAE) is nothing short of inspiring. 
“Before joining SVAE, I faced financial hardships as well as a lack of childcare," said Martinez, who has three young children ages 12, 7, and 5.
Her decision to enroll in SVAE in 2022 was driven by a dual purpose: to learn the English language and to pave a pathway towards college. She hopes to one day own a hair salon.
Martinez's commitment to her education is evident through her enrollment in four classes at SVAE, spanning ESL levels 2 to 5. She is currently dually enrolled in a SVAE GED class and at San Jose City College.
Navigating the demands of school, home, and work life hasn't been without its challenges for Martinez. Yet, she has emerged stronger, recognizing her own power and the importance of advocating not only for herself but for others in her community. 
As Martinez puts it: "Some of my major takeaways have been that we are more powerful than we give ourselves credit for."
She attributes much of her success to the supportive environment at SVAE, where exemplary staff and fellow students have provided encouragement and assistance. She also emphasizes the transformative impact of adult education. 
"Adult education plays an important role in helping adults learn to not only develop new sets of skills for career prospects but also provide us with a second chance to see our dreams are possible," Martinez said. "With tenacity and determination, anything is possible."
Watch the March 13 MetroED Governing Board meeting presentation about Martinez’s journey online here.
Silicon Valley Adult Education Student Quyen To's Journey to Success

From ESL to US Citizenship
Silicon Valley Adult Education Student Quyen To's Journey to Success

girl holding flag
Silicon Valley Adult Education (SVAE) student Quyen To recently reached a significant milestone by earning her United States citizenship. The 33 year old shared her joy and gratitude for the support she received in the English as a Second Language class led by teacher Aruna Subramanian, emphasizing it was instrumental in her success.
During the class, To has gained valuable insights into the history of the United States, including 100 questions about history, ranging from facts about Congress to former presidents. To noted this information as essential in passing the citizenship test, and part of the four months she spent studying for the exam.
To arrived in the United States more than three years ago after marrying an American citizen, and she has even surprised him about her newfound proficiency in English, from speaking to reading; a testament to her hard work and the educational transformation happening at SVAE. 
To shared her enthusiasm for continuing her studies, speaking about plans to pursue further education at SVAE. Beyond the learning, she has also cherished the friendships formed in class and enjoys spending time with her classmates outside of her classroom.
Reflecting on her journey, To emphasized her love for the United States, citing the freedom it offers compared to her homeland of Vietnam, where government control stifles personal liberties.  
Through her determination and the support of Silicon Valley Adult Education, Quyen has gained citizenship while also expanding her horizons, embracing the opportunities her new country provides.
Aidet Martinez's Journey

Aidet Martinez's Journey

Aidet Martinez
Aidet Martinez
Aidet Martinez
English as a Second Language Achievers

Success Stories from 
English as a Second Language Achievers

The following testimonials were shared by students from Marion Clark’s Advanced English as a Second Language class:

Monika Fnu

Monika Fnu
Before I joined my ESL class at SVAE, I tried so many things to learn to speak English. I tried some YouTube channels and some apps that are called ENGLISH GURU and  DUOLINGO. I tried for two or three months, then I got bored. I stopped learning. After I graduated, I also tried to learn English with a teacher who came to my home and taught me. He taught me some grammar and some new words but I didn't have someone to practice English with, my family speak Hindi and Marwadi.  Soon I forgot what I had learned. When I came to America, I tried again to learn English on YouTube. But I got bored,  so I tried the Duolingo App. It gives you five hearts that you can lose if you give a wrong answer. When you lose a heart, you can't practice because you have to wait another day. I got bored again.
One day we got a flier in our mailbox about free ESL classes at SVAE.  Now I am learning English with my classmates, who are very energetic. My teacher Ms. Marion is extremely nice and energetic also. She is always very kind to her students. I never get bored. I am happy now that I have joined this class. In the future, I will work, when I am full of confidence with my English speaking skills.

Kyunglyun KimKyunglyun Kim

I came to America about one year ago. When I came here, all of the things around me including people were so scary. Especially when I spoke in English with other people, I was confused so I couldn’t think and say anything.
Then I decided to go to Silicon Valley Adult Education. When I started to study here, I was still nervous every day but I could make so many friends who are from different countries and ages. At that time, I knew that I would make friends even though we are different.
I have studied here for about one year. Now I have a great teacher and many lovely international friends. It is not stressful any more to talk in English. I am so appreciative of my school.

Olga AkimenkoOlga Akimenko

Studying in this class gives me the opportunity to have a small talk with the taxi driver. Every day I tell him what we studied and how much I love the British accent when our teacher compares British and American English. Plus, every time I get to show off my knowledge of American history and government by studying the 100 citizenship questions. So the English as a Second Language (ESL) class gives me a daily 15 minutes intellectual conversation with the driver. I’m happy!


Even after a long day of working at Metropolitan Education District, Human Resources Analyst Susan Nakahira and Senior Human Resources Systems Specialist Mary Hankins are staying behind. They're not there to catch up on paperwork or attend meetings, though. Instead, they're rolling up their sleeves and joining the kitchen of Silicon Valley Adult Education’s Culinary Arts class. Led by teacher chef Angel Toledano, this program isn't just about following recipes; it's about gaining confidence and unleashing creativity in the kitchen.
“When I first joined MetroED almost four years ago and learned that they had a Culinary Arts program, I was excited and then disappointed there wasn’t an adult education class,” Nakahira said. “So when they brought this one on, there was no question of whether I was going to take the class. I grew up baking but really wanted to get more into cooking and doing things a little more naturally.”
Hankins is taking the class alongside her daughter Marisa, who said joining the class was a no-brainer. She admits to being a "complete amateur" in the kitchen but wanted to expand her knowledge beyond just YouTube tutorials and was grateful to her mom for sharing information about the class.
“I have tried to employ the skills I have seen online, but it is different when you have an actual chef in front of you demonstrating things and having them there to give you feedback at the moment,” Hankins said. 
In the class, she has learned knife skills and the art of mise en place, meaning “putting in place”, which Hankins says has been transformative. Having everything measured out and prepped ahead of time in bowls so when it’s time to start cooking, you can do so more readily and on time, has allowed her to improve upon time management, which she has struggled with in the past.
Chef Toledano emphasizes the importance of starting culinary education early, but he's equally dedicated to teaching adults. He values the support of HR staff members Nakahira and Hankins, who have become his teaching assistants. 
Nakahira finds it therapeutic and enjoys the skills she brings home, allowing her to spend more quality time with her daughter while they cook. Hankins appreciates the technical skills she's gained and the opportunity to break away from assigned roles in the kitchen. For both, the class offers a chance to expand their culinary horizons and build lasting skills.
“I think this is a really cool class,” Hankins said. “I can’t believe it is tuition free right now. What a cool opportunity to learn how to make so many different dishes and get these skills from somebody in the business.”