The North Metro Tech Institute of Adult Literacy in Gainesville, Georgia, is a virtual melting pot of culture and language. Its students come from a striking variety of countries, including China, France, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Morocco, Russia, Thailand, and the Ukraine. Despite their many different backgrounds, however, these students are united by one common goal: learning to read, write, and speak the English language.
Situated 25 miles from downtown Atlanta, the institute borders on three counties and is easily accessible from every direction. A quarter of the institute’s student population is between the ages of 16 and 19.
Jon Collins, an instructor at North Metro Tech, has seen students of all ability levels succeed in the effort to improve their English language skills. One invaluable tool he uses to help students accomplish that goal is a phonics software program called Reading Horizons, which can be individualized for students at all skill levels and allows students to work autonomously and at their own pace. The students really enjoy the program, he says, and make great progress using it – especially English as a Second Language (ESL) and GED students.
One student, from China, has come a particularly long way with Reading Horizons. As a result, she soon will be able to take her GED test.
“Her work ethic is superb,” Collins gushes. “She never gets discouraged.”
Nevertheless, despite witnessing several positive results such as these, the institute faculty faces a difficult challenge in keeping its programs going.
“We had a 26 percent cut in our budget and had to close four centers,” Collins laments. “I have 179 non-English students on a waiting list, and I have not been able to accommodate them. The computers we have are older. It’s been a bit of a challenge for all of us.”
Always forging ahead, however, Collins continues to work hard, driven by the success he has seen his students achieve, time and again, and the hope that he will be able to continue improving the lives of individuals who need what North Metro Tech has to offer.