VESL Personal Care Assistant I-BEST Graduation

by Donna Price and Manuel Gallegos, ESL Instructors



Ten years ago former CE President Dr. Anthony Beebe and Vice President Dr. Brian Ellison went to Seattle with a few counselors and CTE instructors to observe classes that used the I-BEST (Integrated Education and Skills Training) model, which involves teaching career technical education and language and basic skills in an integrated fashion. The representatives from SDCE were so excited about the I-BEST model that they wanted to try it at SDCE. Team teaching is a significant element of this approach.

In 2008, Manuel Gallegos, RN, and Donna Price, Associate Professor ESL, began team teaching the first VESL (Vocational English as a Second Language) I-BEST Personal Care Assistant class at the old César Chávez Campus. Our district recognized the need to create a class that prepared students for an entry level career in the health care field where ESL students could receive language preparation, which directly supported workforce skills in the health care field. The decision was made to create the VESL Personal Care Assistant or Caregiver Class using the I-BEST model and provide a pathway to enter other classes in the Health Care Careers Program, such as Personal and Home Care Aide, Restorative Nursing, and Certified Nurse Assistant.

Eight years later we are still teaching the class with the support of our new CE President Carlos Turner Cortez and WIOA, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, legislation that encourages programs to integrate basic skills and workforce training. Donna teaches ESL for caregivers 15 hours a week, which includes the vocabulary and oral communication skills students need to work with clients.  Manuel teaches hands-on skills caregivers need for 8 hours a week, such as turning a client, assisting with toileting, giving a bed bath and more. Donna and Manuel work together to teach the language and skills students will need as caregivers, future certified nursing assistants and other health care providers.

The spring 2016 VESL for Personal Care Assistant graduation was held on June 9.  29 students received a certificate of completion. These 29 students made a commitment to study in the class four days a week, 15 hours a week, for the entire semester. They fulfilled the attendance requirement of at least 180 hours of instruction and completed the academic and hands-on exit requirements of the class. Here are some interesting facts about the graduates:

• The students in the spring 2016 graduating class came from 12 different countries: Argentina, Cambodia, China, Guatemala, Haiti, Japan, Korea, Libya, Mexico. Russia, Rwanda and Taiwan.

•  They came from all over the county: Escondido, Santee, Kearny Mesa, Mission Valley, Claremont, Pacific Beach, Mountain View, National City, Chula Vista and Imperial Beach.

• The students previously took classes at other Continuing Education sites, including: ECC, MC, CE Mesa, Miramar, and some students are taking classes concurrently, such as computers, grammar, reading and conversation classes.

• Many students worked and studied and still made the commitment to come to the class for at least 180 hours during the semester:

2 students work as caregivers. 

1 student works at a supermarket.

3 students work at a restaurant.

1 student works in a bakery.

1 student is a healthcare provider.

2 students work as cleaners.

Many students work hard at home (household managers) as well.

Special congratulations go to the students who worked and studied at the same time. Some of these students worked until late at night and came to school in the morning. Also, there were many parents in the class who had children that they dropped off at school and did homework with at night. Completing the VESL PCA class takes a lot of sacrifice and support from the entire family.

Many of the students are going to transition to other classes in the Health Care Careers program at César Chávez this summer and in the fall, 2016:

• 2 students are going to the CNA class.

• 9 students are going to the Personal and Home Care Aide Class.

• 2 students are going to the Restorative Nurse Assistant class.

• 2 students are going to the Health Care Careers Class.

• 4 students are going to ESL level 7.

• 4 students are going to ESL Level 6.

• 2 students are going to ESL Level 5.

• 2 students are going to study cosmetology and make-up artistry.

• 1 student is going to take classes in the culinary program.

• 1 student is going to Mesa College.

• Most students are going to look for a job as a caregiver.

In order for this program to be successful, there must be support from administrators, counselors and instructors from the Health Care Careers and ESL programs.  Donna and Manuel would like to thank the support they received from administrators, deans, and faculty.

  faculty and student working in health careers classroom  faculty and student working hands on in health careers classroom

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