Dominican Sisters of Peace: Dominican Learning Center Expands Services in Columbus

A St. Mary Magdalene volunteer tutor works with adult learners to improve their English skills.

Columbus, OH – Juana is a model student. She works hard, has excellent attendance, and often stays after school to be sure that she understands everything from the lesson that day.

Juana also works 3 jobs and is raising three children.

Juana is an adult learner at the St. Mary Magdalene/St. Agnes Parish Adult ESL Class. Thanks to her hard work – and a partnership between the Parish and the Dominican Learning Center (DLC) – her English skills have improved so dramatically that she has been offered a supervisory position at the fast food restaurant where she works.

“That’s the kind of outcome that we hope for with every one of our learners,” says Sister Robin Richard, OP, Assistant Director of the Dominican Learning Center. “We believe that education improves lives, and Juana’s story is a perfect example of how learning has improved the life of an entire family.”

Juana and Sr. Robin are part of a unique adult ESL program founded by the Dominican Learning Center, a founded ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Peace in Columbus, OH. This program combines the expertise of The Dominican Learning Center with the good will of parish members to create an onsite Adult ESL Class at the St. Mary Magdalene/St. Agnes Parish.

What makes the program unique is the involvement of the Parish members. Working with the DLC, the Parish created a parish-based Adult ESL Class. The Parish provided instructional space, and parish volunteers offered their time to serve as tutors, while the Dominican Learning Center trained the tutors and provided instructional materials. The St. Mary Magdalene/St. Agnes Parish has been operating their Adult ESL Class for about a year, thanks to a generous grant from the Columbus Catholic Foundation.

“More than 25% of all people who immigrate to Ohio make Franklin County their home,” says Sr. Robin. “As Christians, and as supporters of justice, we need to provide these people with the help that they need to succeed. We are so grateful to have been able to offer this instruction to 40 learners, helping them improve their lives and the lives of their families.”

“Learning English is not just an academic exercise for our Latino parishioners. A better grasp of English will help them better manage their resources and protect themselves from unscrupulous employers and merchants,” said Cindy Oddi, the DLC Liaison for the St. Mary Magdalene/St Agnes Parish. “And the opportunity for members of our churches to work so closely helps us draw our parishioners closer together and strengthen our Church.”

The Dominican Learning Center also offers an Adult ESL Class in cooperation with Christ the King Parish on the east side of the city, and will open a northwest location in cooperation with St. Peter’s Parish later this year.