JUNTOS IN THE COMMUNITY
An enhanced curriculum, a more informed referral process, and events like Learner-Teacher Day are just a few ways adult learners have benefited from the partnership. Adult education services also are no longer duplicated; the partners have streamlined their course offerings, identified gaps in their services, and added new courses to fill the gaps. For example, when Juntos recognized it needed to build its capacity in the area of Native Language adult secondary education and to address the lack of EL instruction during the evening, the original partners invited the New England Farmworkers Council and MCDI to join as partners. Both organizations have a proven track record in offering such courses. Learners can make a natural progression from one program to the next, depending on their needs and goals. As a result, regardless of which program students go to first, they are referred to the program that best meets their needs. In addition, once learners are enrolled in a program within Juntos, they can bypass waiting lists when moving from one of the six partner programs to another.
Tutoring services also have been enhanced by the partnership. For example, once an adult gets near the top of a waiting list for one of the partners, he or she has the opportunity to be paired with a tutor. Many of the tutors and volunteers come from a tutor recruitment, training, placement, and support program run by the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce; the coordinator of this program is a member of the Juntos advisory council and is recognized by all partners as a crucial presence in Holyoke's adult basic education system.
Other tutors and volunteers come from local four-year colleges, a result of the relationships the partners (particularly CEP) have built with these institutions. Still others come from the Mentor Program at Holyoke Community College. The mentors' role is especially meaningful not only because they help the instructors with their work, but also because many are former adult basic education learners from Holyoke and surrounding communities, and they provide a link between the learners and the community college. Tutors inform adult learners about the higher education services available and serve as role models, helping motivate learners to continue their education beyond the GED diploma.