The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Project Read empowers adult learners

Courtesy of Project Read
During Project Read’s classes, volunteer tutors work with adults, leading them through reading, writing, and speaking activities. “English is involved in our lives in many ways,” Donya Sultani said. “It’s important to teach it in its many forms.”

San Mateo Public Library’s Project Read, an adult literacy program, has decided to collaborate with the San Mateo-Foster City school district to launch new English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. 

Since Feb. 6, these classes have taken place at the Turnbull Child Development Center and are hosted bi-weekly, with classes offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

Project Read was founded in 1985 to provide adults with free, confidential literacy tutoring. 

“Project Read was first formed as part of the California State Library’s California Literacy Campaign to address the rising number of adults who were functionally illiterate,” said Donya Sultani, the literacy program coordinator. “The campaign urged libraries to create literacy programs to serve English-speaking adults aged 16 or over who were not attending school.”

During the classes, volunteer tutors work with adults who seek to improve their fundamental reading and writing skills.

“Our lifeblood is volunteers,” said Kathy Endaya, the leader of Redwood City’s Project Read. “We really need everyone helping to recruit volunteers and get that message out.”

A unique feature of these classes is that Project Read provides free childcare, permitting parents to fully participate in classes while their young child engages in play-based activities. 

For many of Project Read’s participants, improved English skills enable them to achieve personal learning goals such as reading a bedtime story to their child, applying for a job, or voting for the first time. By increasing literacy skills, the program heightens the quality of life for many ESL adults in San Mateo.

“This program aims to empower individuals to improve their literacy skills, enabling them to contribute effectively to their families, workplaces, and communities,” Sultani said. “The program is dedicated to meeting the diverse needs of its participants and fostering their success in various aspects of life.”

This recent collaboration with the San Mateo-Foster City school district intends to continue the impact that Project Read has accomplished over the last 39 years, but it specifically aims to provide parents with the literacy skills needed to aid their child through school.

Whether it be by supporting their kids through homework, effectively communicating with teachers, or participating in school events, there are many ways for parents to involve themselves with their child’s school life. However, most of these tasks prove to be difficult for ESL parents, making many of them feel helpless when it comes to helping their kids with school. 

However, involvement in a child’s school life is essential to achieve, for it offers them the support they need as they grow up.

“To want to help your kid but be unable to just because you can’t speak the language all the homework assignments are in is truly difficult,” said Elaine Shu, a retired Los Angeles Unified School District teacher. “Active communication between a teacher, student, and guardian is key to having a successful education experience.” 

Project Read’s collaboration with the school district grants ESL parents the skills to support their children throughout their educational careers.

“Project Read recognizes the critical role parents play in their children’s education,” Sultani said. “We aim to bridge the gap between formal education and community-based programs by partnering with the school district.”

Joining many other efforts to offer ESL learners support in San Mateo County, Project Read is off to a great start and plans to continue its mission to better ESL adults’ lives through improved literacy.

“Our collaboration ensures that parents receive targeted support,” Sultani said. “We enable them to participate actively in their child’s learning journey.”

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About the Contributor
Naomi Hsu
Naomi Hsu, Staff Writer
Naomi Hsu (Class of 2026) is excited to begin her first year as a news writer for the Scot Scoop. In her free time, she enjoys dancing with her Carlmont Dance Team members and participating in mock trial.

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