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First Graduates of ESOL Classes

The Herndon Dulles Chamber of Commerce's first round of English for Speakers of Other Languages classes ended last week in celebration as Herndon residents received tool belts as graduation gifts.

The classes were funded by a $25,000 workforce training grant awarded to the chamber in early 2005. The grant came from The Community Foundation's Washington Area Partnership for Immigrants Investing in Our Work Force Fund. Additional funds were donated by the local business community to meet the matching grant requirements. The program was run through a collective effort by the chamber, Northern Virginia Community College and Fairfax County Public Schools Office of Adult and Continuing Education.

Before teaching students, the program taught the teachers, to ensure consistency in helping students learn English. Because the grant was awarded through the workforce fund, the English classes had to be work oriented, said Eileen Curtis, president and CEO of the chamber. The first round of free classes focused on construction and landscape terminology.

On the last day of class the eight students present were awarded a certificate of achievement as well as a professional tool belt, equipped with tools, donated by the Reston Home Depot.

Classes were held at the Neighborhood Resource Center, St. Joseph's Event Hall and the Fairfax Institute. Additional English classes will begin in 2006.