....1025 Old Farm Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360••••• Main, 805-497-2761Fax, 805-374-1167•••••• www.ConejoAdultEd.org••••••WASC-accredited

Sabine Zhou
Sabine Zhou has been leading a busy life. Her adventure started in Wuhan, China, at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in French with an emphasis on scientific applications. After graduating, she took a position in Africa for five years, where she was involved in a training project for stock market financial analysts. Later, Sabine went to France and eventually earned her Master’s degree in French literature from the University of Saint-Denis in Paris. Following the completion of her education, she traveled back to China where she worked at the French Embassy five years, helping with membership and organizing seminars, exhibitions, and commercial promotions. Both jobs involved translating Chinese to French and vice versa.

Now that Sabine lives in the United States, she must learn English well in order to gain employment.  The Adult School ESL program has provided her with the classes necessary to begin meeting that goal.  She is currently enrolled in the ESL Level 5 advaced literacy course, English Vocabulary and Idioms, Reading,TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), and Tutoring. With the help of these courses, Sabine hopes to work in real estate or as a tour guide, especially because she enjoys traveling—“a great journey,” she said.  Being trilingual will prove to be a great asset, no matter what career field she enters.

Being a voracious reader, Sabine enjoys autobiographies and biographies, which have helped her learn about certain aspects of this country's culture such as those on Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Warren Buffet.  On the international front, she's currently digesting a book about the founder of IKEA, along with her monthly subscription to Art & Décoration, a French interior design magazine.

Sabine has been impressed with the Adult School program thus far, and its role in helping her realize her career aspirations, not to mention familiarizing her with life in a this country.  “The ESL courses here are fabulous and very interesting, especially the tutoring program,” she said. “This is the first time in my life when I have had one-on-one help.  My teacher knows exactly what I need [and]  all the courses are integrated.  It's [also] so great that I can learn about American culture and make friends with my classmates.”
 
 
Danielle Corbucci

Newlywed 30-year-old Danielle Corbucci came to the United States almost a year ago from Perugia, his birthplace, in the Umbria region of Italy. It was in his home country where he met his wife Brittany, while she was there attending a course. Fate brought them together when she came in to one of two coffee shops that he owned and ordered a cappuccino, which he prepared and served to her. They dated, fell in love, and the rest is history.

Since Daniele has been in the United States, it has been his goal to improve his English, and he has done just that in Adult Education's ESL 5th level advanced course, which he passed with flying colors. On June 2 he graduated from the ESL program with a certificate of completion and has ambitiously undertaken an Advanced Conversational English this summer. Looking back, he said that his teachers have been amazing and that the Adult Education program has helped him cut the time to learn English and at no cost, for which he is grateful.

Westlake Village is now home to Daniele, who works evening hours at Café Firenze, an Italian restaurant in Moorpark. With his newly acquired proficiency in English, Daniele would like to find full time employment during the day with a company like Picnic Time, an Italian-owned gourmet food, wine, and holiday gift basket business. His wife, Brittany, teaches Italian at Conejo Valley Adult School as well as Pepperdine University and provides instruction in the ROP program at Agoura High School.

Daniele’s interests include exercise, playing tennis and taking care of tasks around the house. When time allows, he enjoys visiting and socializing with an 85-year-old Italian acquaintance. Eventually, he’d like to try his turn at salsa dancing. A few spins and some footwork, and Daniele will have reached his scholastic goals.


Gabriela Morales
ESL Graduation speech
Jan. 21, 2010

Good morning. My name is Gabriela Morales.

I would like to take this oportunity to thank the Conejo Valley Adult School for this wonderful ESL program and to all the teachers and staff that work really hard to make all this possible.

When I first came to this school my purpose was to improve my English and my writing skills, but now that I’m here and I’ve seen all the many programs that this school offers, it has made me more ambitious and now I want to persevere and work hard to get my GED.

I think that God heard my prayers because this year the school has just opened a new program that will help me, as well as many more, to fulfill our goals and—who knows—to continue our education at a higher level.

Once again, thanks to all of you and especially to my teacher, Donna Dearborn. I want you all to know that your effort and your support are really appreciated.

Thank you.


Manuel Cruz
ESL Graduation speech

It’s difficult for me to speak in front of a microphone; it’s the first time in my life.

We all have hopes and dreams; they say a lot about us. They say who we are and who we want to be. Some dreams are big. Those take a lot of work to accomplish. Some dreams are not so big and may not take as much effort. All dreams can come true if you work at it day by day.

I appreciate everything my teachers have done to make my goal of learning English come true. I am thankful for their patience and wilingness to help me and my classmates. I also want to thank the people who work in this school and gave me the opportunity to study. I would also like to thank my teacher, Donna, for the help she gave me everyday.


Interviews by B. Kane
Articles by E. Kane and B. Kane

Student Spotlight
More testimonials in these programs:
Student... Computer Medical Adult Basic Ed Learning Center
Staff... Computer Medical Adult Basic Ed Community
 
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Congratulations to our 2014 High School Diploma and Equivalency graduates. Well-earned, well-deserved. On behalf of the Conejo Valley Adult School staff, we wish you the best as you pursue upcoming endeavors and goals.
 
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Congratulations to 2013 Rotary Scholarship Award winners Ashley Miller (left), Itzel Rodriguez, and Manny Fudail (not pictured) for their exemplary academic achievement. They were honored at a Rotary Club luncheon. Conejo Valley Adult School is indebted to the Thousand Oaks Rotary Club for its support of the school's educational programs.
 
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Rotary Scholarship winners, April 2012, display their certificates: From left, Clementina Esparza, Zachary Pink, Oscar Estrada. Thousand Oaks Mayor Jacqui Erwin (right) made the presentation. Joining the ceremony were the students' teachers—Irene Freeman and Donna Dearborn (left)—and former Transitions Coordinator Loredana Carson (second from right).

Maria Botero

Maria Botero is starting over. Sure, she had received a B.A. in industrial design from La Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano, her university back home in Columbia, but she wants to earn the equivalent in the U.S.  It’s just how the system works. On top of that, she has to learn English, and learn it well.  Maria is going to make it, though.  She has already made it to the ESL Level 5 advanced literacy course, concurrently enrolled in English Vocabulary and Idioms, TOEFL Preparation (Test of English as a Foreign Language), and Tutoring.

"I really want to get a job here in this country in the field of industrial design,” Maria said. “So I need to improve and be confident with my English speaking skills.”

She may end up working with her husband, Miller Vargas, to advance their solar and wind energy business.  Meanwhile, her two sons, Alejandro, who lives in Alabama and Camilo, a student himself at a university in Columbia, keep apprised of her school progress.

Maria will soon attend college again herself; she plans to enroll at Moorpark College after completing the Adult School program.  For now, the courses are providing Maria with a satisfying experience.

"The ESL program is flexible time-wise and there are many choices of classes to take,” she said.  “All the teachers are excellent.  My tutor is very nice, helpful and patient."

And when she’s not attending classes?  Golfing at the Tierra Rejada club with her husband does the trick.

Rubilo Garcia

Rubilo Garcia attended elementary school through sixth grade in the small Guatemalan village where he was raised, but the nearest secondary school was 40 miles away, and his family was unable to afford sending him there. That’s where the story begins.

At age 12 then, he began work in construction, serving as a helper in home-building for three years. At age 15, he started employment with the Chiquita Banana company and became a supervisor at age 18.  In May 2000, at age 25, he came to the United States, knowing no English. Until he was 30, he worked three jobs—two full-time and one part-time—seven days a week to support himself and his family; he has two children, still in Guatemala, from his first marriage.  When they were more financially stable, he was able to quit one of the full-time jobs.

When he began studying through Adult Ed’s ESL program, he was working 40 hours per week. Last year, Rubilo graduated from the program with a diploma, after four years of hard work.  He is currently in his second year as a student of the Literacy Center’s tutoring program.  This September, he began the ESL computer course. Meanwhile, his wife, Cristina, is taking the ESL Level 4 class, while maintaining her job as a housekeeper.

Rubilo has been employed with Weldlogic, Inc. for the past five years, assembling welding equipment used for advanced manufacturing.

“I have a goal to get a GED,”  he said.  “That would enable me to eventually get a higher position in the company.  Actually, my career goal would be to open my own business or work in the field of real estate.”    

Rubilo has resided in Newbury Park since coming to the country, and has traveled to San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Catalina Island. However, he feels fortunate that Adult Ed is practically in his own backyard.

“I am so thankful for this school,” he said. “It really helped me a lot. I had wonderful teachers who had a lot of patience to teach me.”

In his spare time, Rubilo plays on a soccer team, likes swimming at his apartment pool or at the beach, and enjoys weekend bike rides with his wife. He also reads, preferring The Los Angeles Times and historical non-fiction books.


Maria Calderon
ESL Graduation speech
Jan. 21, 2010
Hello: My name is Maria Calderon. I'm from Ecuador. I'm a student at this wonderful school.

Thank you so much for the opportunity you have given me to continue expanding my knowledge. During this time I have improved my English, and also had many fun times and have made some great friends. I especially would like to think my teacher, Donna [Dearborn]. She has a lot of patience and it's so nice to always see her smiling.

It has been a great class. Thanks again.

Kathy Hla

For Kathy Hla, the path to the present has been a quite a journey, both geographically from her native country of Myanmar (formerly Burma), and educationally.  Acquiring and improving her English language skills is still a work in progress.  Yet she has taken a quantum leap in completing her studies in both day and evening EL Civics/Citizenship courses she has been enrolled in, possessing enough confidence to pursue her naturalization interview on that very same day. 

She came in definitely well-prepared, having passed a 100-question end-of-course exam earlier in the day.  With the material fresh in her mind, she successfully answered all six questions posed by the examiner, ranging in topics from United States history, government geography and the Constitution.  "Excited" and "proud" describe Kathy's attitude as she looks forward to being among the thousands of newly-minted citizens at the upcoming naturalization ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
 
Kathy praises her Citizenship instructors Kari Lynch and Lauryl Buckel.  "This program is very good, and I really liked it.  My teachers prepared me well for the test and interview."  When she is finished with the ESL program and has taken some computer classes, she would like to fulfill her goal of working in some type of office job capacity where she can utilize her skills. 
 
In Kathy's leisure time, she enjoys cooking for her family, gardening, writing and reading English books of all types. Kathy's husband Tin Ko is a CAD engineer at Skyworks in Newbury Park.  They have two daughters, the older one a USC alumnus with a degree in architectural engineering, the field in which she is currently working.  The other is a student at Moorpark College's architectural engineering program, from where she plans to transfer to a 4-year college. 

The route of becoming a U.S. citizen, even in advance of acquiring complete language proficiency is quite an admirable accomplishment and is a testament to Kathy's love of her long-time adopted country and the motivation to achieve her future goals.

 

Zonia Fleming
From Loja, a small city in Ecuador, Zonia Fleming finds herself at Thousand Oaks’ Adult Ed. The ESL Program has helped her transfer the skills she acquired in college in Equador to her current job, which demands English language knowledge.
Zonia completed her higher education at La Universidad Laica Vicente Rocafuerte de Guayaquil, earning a degree in Business Administration. Afterward, she attended La Universidad de Especialidades Espiritu Santo for her certification in public accounting. She then worked as assistant manager for a company that makes a composite wood product from sugar cane bark.
In the U.S., she met her husband, Randy, through an internet dating site. They communicated for a month before meeting in person. Subsequently, they fell in love and married a few months later. They have been together two years now, and while Randy works at his job as an aircraft mechanic, Zonia is working as a human resources office assistant at Sears and taking Adult Ed classes.
She has been in the program a little over a year and is currently enrolled in ESL Level 3, ESL Civics: Computer Class, and GED Math. Her goal is to advance to ESL 5, earn a GED, and then put her university degrees to use as either a certified public accountant or a business administrator.
Zonia is very grateful for Adult School.
“This program has helped me a lot because when I came to this country, I was afraid to talk English,” she said. “The school has helped me improve my language skills for use in my job and in life. I have excellent teachers and have learned so much from them. I would like to thank [them] and the principal at Adult School for all their help and the learning opportunity."
'The ESL program is flexible time-wise and there are many choices of classes to take. All the teachers are excellent.  My tutor is very nice, helpful and patient.'
 
--Maria Botero, Conejo Valley Adult School student
 

 
Oscar Rosiles
Oscar Rosiles is an ESL program success story, having passed the GED exam on the very first attempt and, as a result, earning his High School Equivalency Certificate. It was a long road involving many years of study and hard work before arriving at the gateway to his future.

Growing up on his grandfather's farm in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico, Oscar acquired a love for animals of the livestock kind. He started his elementary school education there, and continued at Glenwood Elementary when his family came to this country. Returning to Mexico, Oscar went on to attend middle school and, when he finished that level, took a course in accounting.

Through the ESL program at the Adult School, he started at Level 2, progressing all the way through Level 5 Advanced. When he learned about the specialized ESL GED Prep classes that were started just last year, he enrolled right away. In addition, Oscar utilized the Literacy Center to improve his conversational and writing skills, and took an ESL Computer course. When he took a GED practice test in advance, he passed the math, which he attributed to his accounting course. He then focused on improving his proficiency in the other subject areas by studying the material on his own.

After taking all of the coursework and passing the GED, a process that took approximately 3 years, Oscar is looking forward to attending Moorpark College, taking general education classes and earning an Associate of Arts degree. His aspirations include a position in the airline industry, possibly as a pilot, or in the field of criminology as a CSI (perhaps inspired by the TV series?).

Writing about his thoughts, feelings and ideas in his journal is a pastime that Oscar enjoys. In line with his interest in criminology, the type of reading material that he is drawn to include the accounts of the criminals that are involved in the activities of drug cartels. He'll also go one step further, pursuing other literature that may be recommended by the author of a book that he's read.

In addition to his parents Francisco and Patricia, Oscar has 3 younger brothers--Fabian, who is in middle school, Mario, a student at Moorpark College, and Francisco, who is married and lives in Mexico.

Oscar attributes his success to the education he received here. "I think that the Adult School has helped me accomplish my goals and helps other students improve their English so they can communicate with other native English speakers." In Oscar's case, his quest to do just that has led him step-by-step on the path toward a bright future, and his achievement serves as an inspiration to his fellow students who are working toward that same goal.

Isabelle Dewitte

Isabelle Dewitte attended college in Lyon, France, earning the equivalent of a B.A. in Business Administration and Computer Applications. She worked in Paris for 25 years in the field of computer management. Then things got lost in translation.

A move to the U.S. meant that the language barrier would prevent Isabelle from continuing work at the level she had been in her home country; she worked for Cartier, doing diamond management and inventory.

So she began the Adult School’s ESL program here several years ago and now finds herself in the Level 5 advanced literacy course. But Isabelle’s ambitions are greater than that; she is also enrolled in English Vocabulary and Idioms, Reading Skills, TOEFL Preparation (Test of English as a Foreign Language), Tutoring and Citizenship.

"I am working hard in my ESL courses to improve my English speaking skills and be confident so that I can get as good a job here,” she said.

Isabelle plans to take the Administrative Assistant-Level III of Microsoft Office applications course in January, building on some of her previous work experience. Her schooling consumes time, but her hobbies—sailing, kayaking, and cooking—aren’t neglected. Furthermore, her family members—husband Reginald, 19-year-old daughter Annabelle, and cat Minette—are supportive of her ongoing educational pursuits. Isabelle is likewise proud of herself and appreciates the opportunities the Adult School affords.

"This is such a wonderful school,” she said. “Everyone here is friendly, the teachers are very professional and are available to help their students and push them to succeed.  It’s just like family here where the students can encourage each other.”   The program, where students can also learn about other cultures, is serious and… gives [students] skills for life as well as for getting a job, as I am trying to do."  


Chuck Herrera

Chuck Herrera says he’s retired, but that’s only because he doesn’t work a salaried day job anymore. He’s still hard at work, six volunteer commitments away from kicking up his feet and sipping lemonade.

For starters, he has been a volunteer tutor for Adult Ed’s literacy program since 2001, helping English learners with reading and writing comprehension—skills they use for such simple yet vital tasks like reading bank statements, prescription labels, and bank account applications.

He has been working with his current tutee, Maria*, for just over a year, meeting with her once a week for two hours. She wants to be able to read a newspaper.

“It sounds simple for many people, but for her, that’s a real goal, that’s a challenge,” he said.

Chuck’s last student, Jorge*, came to tutoring for six and a half years, during which time he demonstrated a strong work ethic.

“I used to call him The Sponge,” Chuck said. “Every time he came to class, he usually had questions to ask.”

Now Jorge runs his own window- and chandelier-cleaning business, instead of working the two to three part-time jobs he held prior to his education. Chuck believes that without English skills,  Jorge would not have easily been able to start his own business, much less accomplish such entrepreneurial tasks as writing purchase orders or letters to suppliers.

Chuck and Jorge have stayed in contact, and Jorge has converted half his dining room into a classroom for his children, creating an emphasis on education for his family. Chuck would like to think that his impact on Jorge helped create the change.

“I kind of hope I was part of that,” he said of Jorge’s home classroom.

Beyond one-on-one tutoring, Chuck is a conversation leader in Adult Ed’s Conversational English program. He became involved with Adult Ed as a whole after he and his wife, Cathy, volunteered for a post-9/11 fundraiser and he decided he wanted to help people, though he didn’t know how. Then he saw an ad in the paper for the Conejo Valley Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, through which he discovered opportunities at Adult School.

Chuck also volunteers in a third grade class at Acacia Elementary School and has just started volunteering for Many Mansions, an organization that provides housing for low-income families in Ventura County. He just finished coaching a Special Olympics basketball team and will soon be coaching a Special Olympics volleyball squad. His 20-year run as a basketball coach for the Conejo Youth Basketball Association lends him a strong athletics background.
Chuck graduated from Venice High School and then attended Moorpark College, though he dropped out for a time. Later, he was accepted to Cal Lutheran and earned a degree in business management, and has spent his work career in the industrial equipment industry. He has been married for 38 years and has two daughters, Jennifer and Melissa, and two grandsons.

He enjoys traveling, having visited Catalina Island, Egypt, and Rocky Mountain National Park in the past year and Ireland last year, in addition to a 16-day rafting trip along the Colorado River.  He also likes to escape into the world of fiction novels, the latest being James Rollins’s The Judas Strain and Kris Radish’s Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral.  Volunteering brings him back to Earth, in a good way.

“If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t be doing it,” he said.

*names changed for confidentiality

Gabby Salazar
Gabby Salazar, right, with program coordinator Bette Empol
 

Gabby Salazar, who has been a student in our ESL program, possesses an inner drive to both improve her life as well as help and encourage others to do the same. Her most recent academic accomplishment was passing the GED test, and thereby earning her high school equivalency certificate. Her preparation included the supported GED Prep Program at our Learning Center and GED Prep Classses sponsored by our ESL department.

Originally from Michoacan, Mexico, Gabby also spent time living in Mexico City and New Mexico before moving to California in 1997. It was shortly thereafter when she began her journey to the present at Conejo Valley Adult School, taking her first class in computers, in addition to those in English language acquisition, and graduated several years later. With the skills she acquired and the aid of ESL program coordinator Bette Empol (seen hugging Gabby in the photo), she was hired as a buyer for a local welding company, where she has been employed for the past 8-9 years. After learning from a friend about the newly established ESL GED test prep courses, she returned to the Adult School at the program's outset in January 2010.

Gabby sees herself working in any type of office job and continuing to acquire new skills for a back-up career. "My teachers have really helped in me to learn and understand the English language, and I'm so thankful that I've had this opportunity," says Gabby. No doubt Gabby's parents living in Mexico, as well as her two brothers who live locally, are very proud of her accomplishments. Through their support and her own motivation, she has tasted success, and through her experiences she hopes to help others achieve their personal best.

In her leisure time, Gabby enjoys outdoor sports--basketball, tennis, swimming, as well as running--both as a spectator and participant. She looks forward to catching some rays at the beach when the weather permits, watching the sunlight dance on the waves. And, as a person of action, Gabby can be seen making her dancing moves, salsa-style. For relaxation from her busy life, getting into a good book involving detective, mystery, or suspense story lines take her away into another place and time, as do magazines, sports and news publications. The rest of the time, Gabby lives in the here and now, with her sights focused straight ahead to a bright, successful future.


Lupita Tamayo

Lupita Tomayo has been coming to the Adult Ed Literacy Center for a year now. She has been working to improve her speaking, writing, and reading skills.

She was born in the city of Zamora in Michoacán, Mexico. She went to elementary and secondary school in her home country, and also attended secretarial/business college for two years. She hopes that through the Literacy Center, she will become prepared enough to take the GED and go to college again.

"The Literacy Center is excellent and so is my tutor, Chuck Herrera,” Lupita said. “I am so happy with this excellent opportunity.  The tutoring is flexible and there is no cost.”

For the past 23 years, she has been employed at a company that makes and processes glass photo plates. She is currently a quality control supervisor. Her husband, Fernando, works at the same company as a machine operator. They have three children—Luis is a sociology major at San Diego State University, Edgar attends Moorpark College, and Arely is a 10th grade student and cheerleader at Moorpark High School.

Leisure-time activities for Lupita include aerobics class, hiking, cooking, going out to dinner, or enjoying the food her husband barbecues at home. She reads the newspaper every day and Prevention Magazine when she gets the chance. She also travels to San Diego regularly to visit her son and parents.


Interviews by B. Kane
Articles by E. Kane and B. Kane

Registration

ESL classes are closed
for the Fall 2017 semester.

Registration for Spring 2018 semester will take place
Jan. 8 - 11, 2018.

 
Program Dates

Please inquire about no-school dates.

Classes are in session
Aug 14, 2017 - Dec 15, 2017.
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For more information, please call 805-497-2761 ext. 1101 or 1102, or e-mail Bette Empol at BetteE@ConejoAdultEd.org
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Disclaimer: Every attempt is made to provide accurate information, including dates and costs, on this website. We regret any inconvenience caused by inadvertent errors. For a given course, the student shall be responsible for the correct fee, rather than that which has appeared in error. NONE of the following shall be held responsible in any way for website or print-catalog errors/changes: Conejo Valley Adult Education / School, Conejo Valley USD, the webmaster, administrator, counselor, coordinator, instructor/teacher, secretary, or any other District employee.
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