Thursday, October 27, 2011

Community Builder Award Laurel Conran and Lisa Chertok

When a large influx of Burmese (Chin) families settled in the Bollman Bridge Elementary School district, it was clear that the school needed to expand programs so they could integrate the new students and help them achieve. Laurel Conran (an ESOL teacher at Bollman Bridge) and Lisa Chertok (a Bollman Bridge parent and manager at Coastal Sunbelt where many of the parents worked), designed a program to help the Burmese refugee parents learn English and navigate the day-to-day challenges we all take for granted. The women created a 6-week program, now in its third session, where they partnered English and Chin-speaking Coastal Sunbelt employees so they could practice language skills during lunch. The program also included speakers on topics like fire safety, health care, and how to get a library card. Thanks to the program, friendships have been made and the refugees now have a real sense of what it means to be part of the community.

Voice of America (VOA) reporter, June Soh, covered the awards after spending the day at Bollman Bridge Elementary School and Coastal Sunbelt Produce. The story will be ready late November and it will be broadcast overseas to over 100 countries, translated into 44 languages, and will be available to on their website and youtube.