In May of 2018, Spring Branch Independent School District (SBISD) hosted the fourth annual Daily Dose graduation, which provides adult conversational English instruction to parents.
Linda Buchman, Community Relations Officer with SBISD, gave the opening remarks to an overflow crowd. “We are so, so, so proud of you,” she said to the over one hundred graduates gathered in the Spring Woods Middle school parent center. “Each of you who has taken the time to come to class and to learn and to improve, you all are inspirations to each and every one of us. Our goals for your children are the same as you have set for yourselves, to continue to learn, to grow and to try new things. I hope that you will take these new skills that you have developed and continue to grow in your learning.”
Buchman continued, “I want to thank the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) not only for this incredible program that you have provided but also for all the infusion of love for refugees and other families that have come into our community. You are huge difference makers. But I have to extend a special thank you to all the work that you all did without which our community would not have recovered in the manner that it did from Hurricane Harvey. I saw it with my own two eyes, all the volunteers that were out changing lives, giving people hope when they were stranded and did not know what to do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
On the 8 campuses in SBISD which offer English lessons to parents via the Communities in Schools network, a curriculum called Daily Dose is utilized. Liza Olsen who has shepherded 5 of these programs and Janet Smith who has done 3 are the program coordinators with the CIS in the school district. The Daily Dose learning system is a conversation-based program established in 2001 to develop English language skills, self-confidence and everyday survival skills.
The classes are taught twice a week during the day for an hour. LDS missionaries, who receive training in implementing the program, teach the SBISD sessions and also provide Daily Dose classes in libraries, community centers, churches and adult learning centers.
LDS Mission Presidents Jordan Peterson, of the Houston Texas Mission and Aaron Hall, of the Houston Texas South Mission organize the army of missionaries who have served in the Daily Dose program. President Hall shared remarks during the ceremony. “It is really amazing to think how the community, the school district, the missionaries and other interfaith groups come together to teach these wonderful people language skills, particularly English, so they can bless their families, help with children’s homework, help in their careers. To have them graduate today is a great blessing.”
“It takes many years and a lot of practice to learn a language well. They say to start to really speak well requires over 30,000 mistakes. The only way you make a lot of mistakes is by practice. So, if you will keep practicing I promise you that you’ll get better. We honor you today for your hard work but we know it’s just the start. Keep practicing, keep speaking,” Hall added.
Additionally, Memorial Drive United Methodist Church is also involved in a beginner class through its CrossWalk outreach. Christine Gentil and Marissa Klussmann shared, “We have just loved the program. We have had so much fun learning about these people’s past, where they come from, and their cultures, what are the challenges they are having in this country.”
A medical doctor in her own country of origin, Diana Aleman needed to learn English to be able to qualify for advancement for herself and her family. “It is a wonderful program,” she said. “It is necessary to speak English and this is a very helpful program for so many people.”
This is the fourth year the curriculum has been in place in SBISD and its eight campuses. Trina Morford was instrumental in its inception and growth. Her tireless advocacy and volunteerism have led this year to her full-time employment as a parent-teacher liaison at Spring Forest Middle School. Liza Olsen and Janet Smith serve as the volunteer Daily Dose coordinators at the other schools.
Morford said, “When parents learn English, that means when their children grow up and have children they will be able to communicate with them. We are all about families forever and keeping families together. Learning English in the United States is one of the biggest steps to keeping family relationships together.”
Morford emphasized the international scope of the program and its fostering of cooperation and harmony among cultures. “There is massive diversity within SBISD. Parents involved in Daily Dose are from at least 15 different countries and speak languages from around the world such as Chinese, Arabic, Swahili, Persian, Korean, and Spanish. Most of the graduates are mothers and grandmothers and they were very intent, very hungry for specific accurate English expressions to help them connect to the community. Some students have come back for a second or third year to gain that additional practice.”
Elder Kaden Wiese, a missionary from Morgan, Utah, has been assisting for seven months and can attest to the international and collaborative spirit found in the learning system. “It’s a really great program. It’s been neat to see everyone that didn’t know English at first, to progress and now they can speak. They see people in the class that are struggling and they go to help them,” he said.