The School Sisters of Notre Dame have been offering tuition-free education classes for over a decade, and well over 1,000 women have passed through their doors, either learning a new language or preparing for their high school equivalency.
At the end of each school year, the teachers, students and supporters gather to celebrate their ongoing achievements. Nearly 75 students came together Monday to cap off the year and speak about what the center has meant to them.
“I like the center because I have made many friends,” said Jannat Akram, a Level 1 student from Pakistan. “Our teacher Tehmina is nice and helpful. See you in September.”
Many people get nervous speaking in public, so consider the achievement of learning a new language well enough to speak before an entire room.
Level 2 student Mirella Murillo thanked the teacher at the center for their patience and for “day by day, helping us to be better.”
“Thank you for the opportunity to be here, for the smiles that receive us each morning, for the daily prayers, for the learning environment,” said Level 3 student Nairovy De La Rosa from the Dominican Republic.
“With your support, we have decided to move forward, and we are moving,” added Level 4 student Lucia Abreu. “Not only in our knowledge. but also in improving our self-esteem and confidence.”
Finally, Level 5 student Eva Portugal, a teacher in her home country of Peru, looked back on her journey so far.
“I have learned new things, I have updated my knowledge,” she said. “I have made new friends and I have noticed the values that the sisters live and teach with, such as respect, helpfulness, patience and humor.”
Enrolled in the High School Equivalency program, Shareece Walker held back tears as she said farewell to her teachers and classmates.
“I leave with my head held high and with confidence,” she said. “This opportunity wasn’t just about taking a test at the end for me. It was more of ‘we’ve got your back with whatever you let us help you with.’”
After the closing ceremony, the students and teachers went back to the center at 88th Avenue and 87th Street in the old convent across the street from St. Thomas the Apostle, where they enjoyed cake and coffee and said farewell to each other for now.
Many of these women will be back in September to continue their journey. Some are going to be taking their high school equivalency exam in a few days, so if you could send some prayers their way, they would appreciate it.
Although it’s the start of summer break for the students, the center itself is already gearing up for the next school year. If you know anyone who could benefit from these free classes, please pass this information along to them regarding the September 2019-June 2020 school year.
There will be a placement test for any women who want to learn English or improve their English-speaking skills on Monday, June 17, at 10 a.m. Classes are for women, 21 years old and older. If you come on this date, please do not bring your children.
And looking ahead, registration for high school equivalency diploma classes will be on September 4, 5, and 6, between 9 a.m. and noon.
It’s a remarkable center that provides great opportunity for women, improving their lives and the lives of their families, and we’re proud that it’s right here in the heart of Woodhaven.
If you have any questions about the center, please call them at 718-738-0588 or email them at SSNDEC@aol.com.