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ESOL Class for Custodial Staff: A Commitment to Learning

December 17, 2008

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Vasley Lowe

Vasley Lowe, a University at Albany employee, moved to the U.S. from Jamaica six years ago.  (Photo Mark Schmidt) 

Vasley Lowe puts in a full day of arduous labor as part of the custodial staff serving the University at Albany's main campus. When he returns home, it's time to hit the books.

Lowe, 58, moved to the U.S. six years ago from Jamaica. He is among a dozen employees in Custodial Services from as far away as China, Thailand, Albania, and Poland who are taking an English for Speakers of Other Languages course at UAlbany.

The New York State & CSEA Partnership for Education and Training, Capital Region BOCES, and UAlbany's Office of Human Resources have joined together to offer the class for the second time.

Lowe, who took the course last year, was happy to be accepted a second time. "It was great," said the 58-year-old husband and father of eight grown children. "The class was convenient and I enjoyed it. My teacher (Anya Zaderej) is so awesome. She is humble and patient. She is everything."

Lowe said that while Jamaica is an English-speaking country, people speak much more quickly there. Through the class, he has learned to speak more slowly so that others can better understand him.

Officials collaborated to offer the program again.

From left, Gary Bartolina of NYS/CSEA Partnership; Lynne Shultis and James Mancuso of Human Resources; Jennifer Watson and Kerry Csontos of Facilities Management; and CSEA chapter President Dave Harrison collaborated on offering the course for a second time.

According to James Mancuso, associate director of Human Resources and director of Labor Relations, the first sessions were well received and beneficial to the employees personally and in their work. "We were very happy to be able to offer it again, as the classes benefit communication and improve morale. I would like to thank Lynne Shultis from Human Resources and Dave Harrison from CSEA (chapter President) for working together to obtain a labor/management grant to sponsor this program once again. And, to Jennifer Watson, Doug Cornwell and Ann Trudeau from Custodial Services, who showed how important this program is by providing one hour of release time to employees who attended the classes. The employees attending class are using one hour of their own time accruals.

"I am very pleased to have been part of the planning process to offer University at Albany custodial staff the opportunity to participate in the second round of ESOL classes," said Watson, assistant director of Facilities Management. "The custodial department prides itself on its diversity. This class goes a long way in showing our commitment to our staff, their value to the work force, and their contributions to the University."

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