Winning Student Essays 2013

1st Place: Marcos Martinez? (Tutor: Michele Caputo)Pat Marcos and Pat's student

Hello, my name is Marcos (Mark in English) and I came to this country a few years ago.

After coming to Texas, I just worked since I had to financially support my family in Mexico so I had no opportunity to study English.? After a few years of just working, I realized that I must focus my efforts and will to develop other skills including improving my English.

If I could speak and read English better then I could realize new goals by taking advantage of training offered in this country as technology in the construction business to complement my professional education as an Architect. Knowing English better meant chatting with my new American friends, getting more tools to improve my personal life, and help to find a professional job. With limited communication skills in English, it was hard to relate to people or things in the USA and slowed down my progress in reaching important personal and professional goals.

A year ago, I moved to Florida to take care of my father and to seek new opportunities.

I reviewed my goals and learned about the Conversation Club at the Dunedin Public Library.? Ms. Pat and the teachers helped me with improving my conversation and writing skills as well as building my confidence to speak in class and help others.

Not too long ago, I was assigned a tutor to help me prepare for the GED test, which gave me much joy. My new tutor, Ms. Michele Caputo, is ?muy simpatica? or very understanding. She has transformed my interest in learning. She has a physical disability, which reminds me that I need to work harder to overcome my learning challenges. She gives me strength to meet my goals. Sometimes, I meet obstacles and look for excuses to relax. But seeing my tutor struggle every week to meet with me despite her physical problems, I forget about the excuses and I stay faithful to the struggle of mastering the English language.

In the future, my goals are going to pass the GED and going to college and finish a degree. I hope to have my own business one day. I am considering taking the US Citizenship test.

Improving my English has changed my life. With help from my GED tutor and the teachers from the Conversation Club, I will succeed. Yes, I can. Thanks for your help.

2nd Place: Maria Espino? (Tutor: Dot Naegele)

ME Family LCUP?Hello, my name is Maria Espino. I was born in Mexico, I am a mother of 5 children. Their names are; Joel (age 15), Lucero (age 12), Araceli (age 10), Elisa (age 8) and Saray (age 3). I attend clsses at Dunedin Public Library, The teachers at Dunedin Public Library are striving to help me read and write in English. I gave thanks to all the hard working teachers in Dunedin Public Library, Especially Ms. Dot Naegele. She is my diligent tutor that helps me with everything, Thank you Ms. Dot. Before I came to this marvelous program, I didn?t know as much English as I do now, I was disoriented. When I took my children to the Doctor or the Dentist, it was crucial to communicate with the doctor or whoever else I was speaking to, I was frantic because I didn?t understand nothing of what they were saying. But now I can speak and write more fluently than before, now I can read a book to my youngest daughter and it feels great! Also I can attend my children?s meetings or have a conference with the teacher if I need to know something; I can finally communicate with my children?s teachers and Principals.

I will never forget the time my tutor teacher said to my daughter ?Don?t laugh at your mom when she speaks English? ?on the contrary, they should help or teach her more English? Now my daughters and my son are helping me in English. I feel happy that I could attend this program; this has been a lot of help for me so I can go on in the future. I hope this program will continue! Thanks to all the staff and teachers that strive to help us learn this language that is very important for us and for all parents that have their own families so we can help our children to read and write as little or as much as we learned from this amazing program.

My decision is to keep learning English, for in the future I can find a better job so I can sustain my children, that?s the reason I?m in this program to learn how to read and write in English so I can get ahead in life and do things that some Hispanic people can?t do. I will keep going strong in this program and hope my wishes will come true. Thank you so much! And God Bless this program! And staff and tutors and also teachers!

3rd Place: Teresa Pena – absent due to work obligations (Tutor: Gary Richey, Jr.)

Teres Pena tutor accepting 3rd place writing award for herWhen I came to America ten years ago, Spanish was my only language.? I did not understand how important it was to learn English.? Now I know that learning English will give me independence.? Not being able to accomplish tasks such as talking to my children’s teachers, understanding orders at work, and even going to the grocery store showed me that life would be easier if I knew English

I did not know what to expect when I first went to conversation class at the library.? I admit I was nervous and did not know if it would help me.? After a while when I found out how kind everyone was, I no longer felt nervous.? The teachers really want?? us to learn English and they are very helpful when teaching.? I can tell that they really care about their students.? I am very thankful for the literacy program and those involved in the program.?

?I’ve been with a tutor since May of 2013 and I am seeing some improvement.? I would be lying if I said that my life was completely changed for the better.? But that does not mean that it has not changed my life at all.? I understand that you can not learn a new language in a day and know that it will take some time.? The biggest change that has happened to my life is that I have confidence in my self to speak English in public.? That confidence has given me a lot of pride in myself.? I used to be shy when speaking with people in English but now I am eager to join conversations.? The biggest change that I have in my life is that I now have the independence that I came to America to enjoy. ? ?