Northark adult education student, educator win awards

Tuesday, November 16, 2021
Northark Adult Education instructor Amy Roberts (right) works with English as a Second Language (ESL) student Lucero Franco. Roberts and Franco recently won awards for their work in the adult education program.
Submitted photo

Lucero Franco is determined to learn English. It is something the Mexico native has been interested in since she came to the United States.

“I was thinking about this new language for me,” she said. “I started practicing and finished two books by myself, but I could only speak probably 20 percent English.”

Franco knew she would need help to accomplish her goal of learning English, so she enrolled at North Arkansas College’s Adult Education program in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. It was there her path crossed with adult education instructor Amy Roberts and other ESL instructors.

Northark Adult Education Instructor Amy Roberts (left) and English as a Second Language (ESL) student Lucero Franco recently won awards for their work in the adult education program.
Submitted photo

Franco works at a full-time job and goes to class multiple nights a week at the Carroll County Center in Berryville as well as studying at home and online. Her dedication to working with Roberts and her other ESL teachers is paying off not only with increased English skills but also in the form of a national award.

Franco has been awarded the 2021 Burlington English-Excellence in ESL Award. Burlington English is a program that combines face-to-face classroom activities with online interactive courses. The award is presented to a student who has demonstrated merit and distinction as an English language learner.

Franco gives credit to the ESL instructors who have boosted her English abilities.

“I work hard, and now I think I can speak English 20 percent more,” she said with a laugh. “I can speak 40 percent now. I can understand the conversation when the teachers are speaking. Every day I am trying to learn more English because it is very important.”

Roberts also has earned an award for her hard work.

Roberts has been named the 2021 Outstanding Adult Education Teacher Award by the Arkansas Association of Continuing & Adult Education.

Roberts became ESL-endorsed out of necessity. Before her time in adult education, she was teaching in a public school elementary class where 50 percent of the population did not speak English.

In her nearly seven years at Northark, Roberts has helped countless students, like Franco, achieve their goals.

“I love the people — coworkers and students both,” she said. “It is a very fulfilling way to use my education degree. The students want to be here. They wholeheartedly want to learn. I can’t say enough about the staff. Our adult ed staff is amazing. I didn’t always have that in public school, so it’s really nice. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without the team that I work with. They give me the freedom to do what I do and do what I do well.”

Northark Adult Education Director Cherie Conner said Roberts always puts her students first and makes them a priority.

“Amy has made a name for our program and in turn created an atmosphere of encouragement and learning.” She said. “Amy truly cares. She is excited to teach and assist students to be the best they can be. Amy recognizes freedom of thought and expression as a core value and encourages others to understand its importance as it relates to classroom activities and everyday life. She is over the top in her willingness to help, attend trainings, and learn new things or just simply be there for whomever needs her or to do whatever needs to be done. She is a hardworking instructor who is very deserving of this award.”

For more information about ESL classes or any adult education program, call 870-391-3198.

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