The Socorro Independent School District Community Education program has been consistently successful in helping adult students improve their education and job skills to enter the workforce.
During the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the department has been continuing their support and collaboration within Team SISD and the community. With approval from the SISD Board of Trustees, they teamed up with the district’s Technology Services to provide laptops to students in the adult education program so that they could continue their studies remotely.
Director of SISD Community Education Anthony Fraga saw the need for students to have access to technology to continue and complete their education.
“The mission of programs like ours is to prepare students to enter into the workforce with middle skills that can help them start their careers,” Fraga said.
One student in the Youth Job Skills program, part of SISD Community Education’s partnership with Workforce Solutions Borderplex, was able to complete her classes in the University of Texas at El Paso Pharmacy Technician Program when she received a laptop from SISD.
Through the Youth Job Skills program, Elena Ruiz received assistance with tuition for the pharmacy classes, a gas card for travel expenses, and getting a job with the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank.
“Before joining this program, I hadn’t had a job for five years and I was really struggling,” Ruiz said.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, shutting down schools and universities, leaving Ruiz unable to attend her classes in person and struggling to find the technological equipment necessary to continue her classes online.
Ruiz was among the first round of students to receive a laptop to work on completing her program virtually from home. Help from Community Education staff also kept Ruiz on track in her studies.
“The transition for me from in person to virtual was honestly very difficult,” Ruiz said. “But I always felt like I had a good support system from my teachers, so that’s what encouraged me to keep on going.”
Ruiz’s teacher Wendy Arellano said providing support and equipment for students is vital for their success and always at the forefront in the SISD Community Education program.
“To see our director reach out to the district and to see the district’s response on providing students with laptops, just how everyone came together for our students, is what makes it exciting for us to work and help especially at this time,” Arellano said.
Ruiz recently completed the pharmacy technician program and is excited to enter the workforce.
“I always was interested in pharmacy tech because I wanted to help people,” she said. “This program has provided me with that opportunity and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. This was a life changing experience. I hope if there is anyone thinking of doing this program that my story will encourage them to take this opportunity.”
Fraga said that Ruiz’s success does not stem from the help of a single individual or department, but a community of educators and departments coming together.
“To me the accomplishments of our students, like Elena, shows that we are working together as Team SISD,” he said.