Winter Safety 101

December 7, 2021

Yikes!  A high of 12 degrees today!?  So this morning I begrudgingly put leggings on under my pants, pulled on my heavy socks, layered my shirts, wore my warmest driving gloves, and wrapped my neck with a scarf before heading out to the cold air.

I am prepared for the winter cold (and have in fact survived many decades of winters) but what about my new refugee students?  Not so much!  They were hoping that the weather doesn’t get any colder than 40s…such a harsh awakening!

As South Dakotans, we know the season.  Community-wide jacket drives for children abound.  On TV the summer ads have been replaced with sweaters and parkas.  The lawnmowers have been put away and replaced by snow blowers, the deck furniture has been overturned, the garden is barren, and the trees have barely a leaf left as the remaining few crunch under our feet. 

And although we have not hit the coldest month of the year yet, students are bundling up in parkas and scarves and winter boots.  They are telling me that it is COLD, and are in disbelief that the weather could possibly get any colder.  I sorrowfully have to inform them that the weather does indeed get much colder here in South Dakota. 

I truly had to look and know for myself the temperatures my students are used to.  Using weather-atlas.com I found the average January temperatures for several of my students’ warm climate countries.  South Sudan has a high of 98.2° F and a LOW of 68.2° F!  El Salvador, close to the equator, has a high of 87.1° F and a low of 66.9°F, and the coolest country I looked up was mountainous Nepal at 66.4° F and 36.3°F.  Balmy South Dakota, on the other hand, has a high of 23.4° F and a low of -9.7° F in January.

And that is the crux of the matter.  My new students have never experienced snow and actual sub-zero temperatures.  My students don’t know what mittens are or that we need to dress in layers.  They don’t know how slippery the ice is nor how bitter the wind becomes.  And so every year, we discuss tips on staying warm.  Here are a few basic ones all my students need to learn.

Tips for Dressing in the Winter:

  • Layer your clothes.
  • Choose tight fitting clothing to prevent air.
  • Choose long coats over short.
  • Invest in hat, mittens/gloves, and a scarf.
  • Wear water-resistant boots.

Do you know someone who needs a winter coat?  Want to Donate a coat?

  • St. Francis House: Keep Warm Keloland  
  • The Salvation Army: Coats For All  
  • Union Gospel Mission
  • Center of Hope
  • St. Vincent de Paul
  • Good Will of the Great Plains

Hope you all stay warm this winter!

Written by Heather Glidewell

Adult ESL Instructor & Volunteer Coordinator Assistant

Center for New Americans

P:  605-731-2041  |  T:  800-2422447  |  C: 605-743-0706  |  F:  605-731-2059

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100  Sioux Falls, SD 57103

LssSD.org

Strengthening Individuals, Families & Communities


America 101: Cultural Orientation at LSS

October 19, 2021

Two PowerPoint slides shown to students in Cultural Orientation class

Adjusting to life in a new country is no easy task. New arrivals to the United States must learn new practices and ways of being to survive and thrive. To help with this transition, LSS offers Cultural Orientation class every month. The class is offered to clients who have just arrived in the U.S. and teaches essential skills and knowledge about American life. It covers topics including home safety, American laws, banking and finances, education and healthcare.


One special feature of this class is its use of guest speakers. LSS invites community members to Cultural Orientation to lend their expertise on pertinent topics. We have law enforcement officers, health professionals and financial experts come in to speak to the students. Not only do the students benefit from the insights of these guest speakers but they are also introduced to trusted community members that they can call upon later for help and support. Building these bridges helps make the transition to life in Sioux Falls easier for new arrivals.


Community building is done not only through guest speakers but also through the dynamic, multicultural nature of the class itself. Students in the class come from many different countries, cultures, languages and backgrounds but they are all there for the same reason: to learn how to live and thrive in their new home. This shared purpose helps the students bond and build community in the class. Cultural Orientation’s teacher, Silke Hansen, notes, “One of my favorite things about Orientation is that new arrivals from different countries meet and get to know each other which might not have happened otherwise.”


Cultural Orientation is taught for two weeks every month from Monday through Friday for 3 hours per day.

Kate Harris ESL Instructor & Career Navigator
LSS Center for New Americans
P: 605-731-2000 | F: 605-731-2059
300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 Sioux Falls, SD 57103
LssSD.org


Xcel Energy Helps Immigrants Excel in Sioux Falls

September 28, 2021
Students participate in a hybrid classroom

LSS Center for New Americans once again received a generous grant from Xcel Energy. This grant has helped to provide classes that prepare students to enter the workforce. The project, called Career Literacy for Refugees and Immigrants, teaches students career readiness skills such as critical thinking, teamwork/collaboration, leadership and digital literacy. The project also provides instruction in the four major language skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. These skills help students find jobs, advance in their current jobs or find jobs that match the skills and training they had before they came to the U.S. Many of our students have gone on to get and excel in jobs in production, manufacturing, industry, customer service and other areas.

One unique feature of these classes is that they use the hybrid model of instruction in which there are some students learning online and some students learning inperson simultaneously. This model enables students to come to class and learn in a way that best suits them, their schedules, and learning preferences. It also provides equity for students who do not have the skills or resources to participate in Zoom instruction. Each LSS classroom is equipped with an OWL (combination camera/speaker/microphone) that allows online students to see and hear their in-person classmates and vice versa. Students have been very receptive to the model, often joking and having conversations between online and in-person students.  In one recent class, a student joining class online for the day instantly recognized the voice of an in-person student; the two students immediately starting chatting like old friends. Interactions like this warm the hearts of our instructors and build community in the hybrid model.

Xcel Energy provides the energy that powers millions of homes and businesses across eight Western and Midwestern states. Headquartered in Minneapolis, the company is an industry leader in responsibly reducing carbon emissions and producing and delivering clean energy solutions from a variety of renewable sources at competitive prices.

The company also supports communities and local community organizations in four major areas: STEM education, workforce development, environmental protection and stewardship and arts and culture. Xcel Energy has partnered with LSS for seventeen years and specifically with the Center for New Americans for the past twelve years.

Thank you to Xcel Energy for your generosity, compassion and commitment to our students. We are thrilled to see our students “xcel” thanks to your sponsorship!

Kate Harris  ESL Instructor & Career Navigator 

LSS Center for New Americans

P:  605-731-2000  | F:  605-731-2059

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100  Sioux Falls, SD 57103

LssSD.org


National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week

September 21, 2021

What is National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week?
September 19 to 25 is National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. This week focuses on public awareness and understanding of the essential role of adult education and family literacy in the workforce.


Why is literacy important?
Statistically we find that illiteracy leads to a multitude of socioeconomic problems.
Illiterate adults are:
• 2x more like to be unemployed
• 3x more likely to be in poverty
• 4x more likely to be in poor health


At LSS Center for New Americans, we serve an average of 793 adult English language learners every year. We offer courses in English language acquisition, cultural orientation, workforce training, job interview skills, and citizenship education.


Adult education is essential for workforce development. Statewide statistics show that adults who complete a course have a 54% employment retention rate after 6 months.


For more information on a state level, here is Governor Noem’s press release this past week: https://news.sd.gov/newsitem.aspx?id=28528.


As teachers, here at Center for New Americans, we are very blessed to continue to help our students reach their goals and become productive, successful members of our society.

Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor
300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103
1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax


Bring It On! Hybrid Classes: Making it Work

August 10, 2021
The OWL allows students to see, hear, and communicate during hybrid classes.

For the past several weeks, students have been slowly filling our hallways and classrooms again. Yet, it is a quiet transition, with only a few in-house spots available while the majority of students remain online.


This hybrid design was proposed to help students remain in English classes while still allowing for social distance and safety. Currently students are given the option of in-house or online attendance.


Creativity has made this model work for our students. Online students attend classes via Zoom while in-house students are able to see and communicate with the online students via OWL and projector. Additionally our volunteers are also still able to assist in the classroom via Zoom and are happy to help in any way.


“The hybrid model has been a learning curve for sure, but the students are engaged and we are happy that we can accommodate their need for both in-person and online instruction.”
-Kate Harris: Adult ESL Instructor and Career Navigator


There are benefits for both the online and the in-house model. Online classes provide students who otherwise could not attend due to health issues, child care issues, work schedule issues, etc., the ability to still receive quality instruction. The in-house model gives the benefit of a more traditional classroom, face-to-face instruction, interaction, and no need to rely on technology. Regardless, opening up the hybrid classes has added a new and exciting dynamic to our classrooms.


The hybrid class is challenging but we say, bring it on!


Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor
300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103
1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax


Volunteering Via the Internet ~ Hello Zoom Classroom! Part C

May 11, 2021

Students and teachers at the Center for New Americans rely on the help and support of classroom volunteers.  When our classes went online last spring, we had to find innovative ways to bring the volunteers back into the classroom.  Volunteers that were used to the traditional classroom have now become efficient and comfortable with the virtual online classroom.

This is the last in a series of three interviews.  This week I talked with Volunteer Karen.  She has been a volunteer since the 2016.

First, how did you hear about the Center for New Americans?

I learned about the wonderful services provided by Center for New Americans years ago when my church sponsored a refugee family.  When I retired in 2016, I was looking for a meaningful volunteer opportunity.  I have always enjoyed meeting people from other cultures, and volunteering as a teacher’s aide for English Language Learners sounded interesting.

Why did you want to get involved?

In January 2016, I started volunteering once a week as a teacher’s aide in a Level 1 class and a Level 3 class. The classroom teachers provide the lesson.  As an aide, I help reinforce the teacher’s lesson.  I really enjoy it!  Sometimes I’m in the larger classroom. At other times, I take a small group of students to review a specific lesson.

What are some of your favorite memories from working with a student/in class?

I especially have enjoyed the following experiences:

  • Assisting a student who just sounded out a word and seeing the big smile on their face!
  • I love it when a joke is shared and understood even through our language barriers!
  • The students call all of us “Teacher.” I can tell it is a term of honor by the way they say it.

How has Covid changed the way you volunteer and how are you adapting?

When the pandemic required moving classes to Zoom, I started volunteering several days a week.  I needed something meaningful to do while hunkering down at home. It’s been a lot of fun, and it helped me avoid feeling isolated during the pandemic.  I’ve learned more about how to teach English, and I’ve gotten better acquainted with the students and the teachers. I can’t recommend this enough!

What would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering at CNA?

For me, it feels like an honor to be a small part of an English Language Learners’ journey.  I strongly encourage anyone who might be interested to give this a try.  The classroom teachers will first ask you to observe, then will give you direction on how to work directly with students.  It’s a chance to meet people from other cultures, right here in Sioux Falls. I learn so much. It’s fun, it’s interesting, and it allows me to volunteer in a meaningful way.

Want to be a classroom volunteer?

Contact diana.streleck@lsssd.org

Apply Here

https://lsssd.org/what-we-do/center-for-new-americans/volunteerapplication.html

Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103

1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax


Volunteering Via the Internet ~ Hello Zoom Classroom! Part B

May 4, 2021

Students and teachers at the Center for New Americans rely on the help and support of classroom volunteers.  When our classes went online last spring, we had to find innovative ways to bring the volunteers back into the classroom.  Volunteers that were used to the traditional classroom have now become efficient and comfortable with the virtual online classroom.

This is the second in a series of three interviews.  Stayed tuned in the coming weeks to hear more about volunteering via Zoom.

This week I talked with Volunteer Jeaneite.  She has been a volunteer since 2017.

First, how did you hear about the Center for New Americans?

I heard about CNA one Sunday in church in Vermillion.  I recently retired from working in education and was looking for a volunteer opportunity.  The Center for New Americans seemed like a good fit.

Why did you want to get involved?

I wanted to get involved to make a positive difference for other people. I worked with ESL students for many years and understood the value of this program.

What are some of your favorite memories from working with a student/in class?

My favorite memories always involve the look on someone’s face when the “light bulb comes on,” when someone understands something they have been working on and having difficulty with.

How has Covid changed the way you volunteer and how are you adapting?

COVID has changed the way I volunteer because I now work with the students on Zoom instead of in person.  It is more difficult to read how students are processing the information.  It has been beneficial for me though because we are in Arizona for the winter this year, and I am still able to volunteer.  I am very appreciative for the opportunity.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering at CNA?

I would highly recommend volunteering at CNA to anyone who asked me.  It is a win-win-win.  It is good for the students to get more one-on-one or small group practice.  It helps the teacher in working with more students at their level and giving students more drill and practice. It is very rewarding for me to see people learn and become more proficient and comfortable in their communication skills.

Want to be a classroom volunteer?

Contact diana.streleck@lsssd.org

Apply Here

https://lsssd.org/what-we-do/center-for-new-americans/volunteerapplication.html

Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103

1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax


Thankfulness

December 1, 2020

Our students studied health this past month, which I found appropriate as I asked my students this past week what they were thankful for.  Health was their number one answer!

Even as we enter the coldest months of the year, always rampant with flus and colds, and we face a new virus, we are still thankful that we have our health.  These words were not given lightly as many of my students have already been affected by coronavirus in their families and friends, and they all hope that we continue to stay healthy.

Additionally my students told me that they were thankful for family, friends, a safe home, food, and jobs.

But most importantly, my students are also thankful for the opportunity to continue learning English, even if it is not in a traditional classroom.  They are thankful for Zoom, the Internet, and their teachers that continue to reach out and teach them. 

And I am thankful too.  I am thankful that my students are dedicated, hardworking, and inquisitive.  I am thankful that my students continue to thrive even when things look bleak.  I am thankful that we are able to provide English classes to such wonderful people.  I certainly miss them in my classroom, but I am beyond grateful that we have found a way to connect and continue on through this pandemic.  I am so grateful that my students have remained strong and healthy.  I am happy that those who have been sick, have been able to return to the Zoom classroom.  I am thankful that we are here to celebrate together.

Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103

1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax


The First Time

November 17, 2020

As we all know, November 3 was voting day.  We were reminded that many people participate in this privilege.  This day marked the first time for many new Americans to vote in their democracy.  It was a privilege to be celebrated and the results were greatly anticipated.

Here at Center for New Americans we learn that voting is a responsibility and a right reserved for U.S. citizens.  When studying for the naturalization test, students need to know the answers to the following questions:

  • What is one responsibility that is only for United States citizens?  To vote
  • Name one right only for United States citizens.  To vote in a federal election
  • What are two ways that Americans can participate in their democracy?  Voting and serving on a jury

According to https://americanhistory.si.edu/citizenship/ Preparing for the Oath:  “It is the responsibility of the United States citizens to vote in federal elections.  Voting is important.  However, there is no law that says that citizens must vote.”

Another question that is asked during the naturalization interview is, “Why do you want to be a citizen?”  As a citizenship instructor, I hear the answer, “America is my home!  I want to vote!” over and over.  I also hear, “I want to be part of a democracy!” 

We are so happy for our new citizens that voted this year.  Congratulations!  Here’s to many more years of voting and participating in our democracy. 

Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103

1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax


IN THE SPIRIT OF JOY

October 27, 2020

Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church upholds its name. 

Updated Technology in the Classrooms Helps Provide Successful Online Classes

A couple of years ago, Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church had set aside money in their yearly Outreach budget to support a new refugee family.  However, this year in light of the pandemic, an alternative was needed for the designated funds.  The Outreach Committee discussed the situation with the LSS Development Department, and it was decided to donate the $5000 to the education department at the Center for New Americans in order to support technology in the classroom.

The LSS Center for New Americans provides English classes to preliterate through pre-GED students, vocational classes, and citizenship classes to refugees and immigrants within the Sioux Falls community.  The classrooms were dramatically changed this past March when the program searched for a safe, online solution.  As of today over 150 students are attending classes via Zoom, but with outdated laptops and lack of appropriate microphones and speakers, the initial launch of classes was accompanied with an array of technology challenges. 

This generous donation supported the purchase of essential technology for the Center for New Americans.  Classrooms are now equipped with instructor laptops, audio-speakers and microphones.  Now limited in-person students and virtual students will be able to communicate with their teachers and their classmates. 

Carole Chell, Outreach Team Leader, and also a volunteer for Lutheran Social Services, says, “I’m surprised how well it [using Zoom classrooms] has gone.  The students have adapted well!”

Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103

1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax


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