Mt. Diablo Adult Education
Reynaldo Espinosa first came to this country from Nicaragua in 1987. He had completed three years of university in Nicaragua and expected to continue his education here after learning English. Unfortunately, expected financial support from his father never materialized and Reynaldo was left with the full responsibility of supporting himself.
Knowing he would have to learn English before he could continue his education in America Reynaldo enrolled at Mt. Diablo Adult Education in late 1987. He attended classes three times each day, every day. He still cherishes the certificate he was awarded for perfect attendance by teacher Josie Pascal. His perseverance continued until he was speaking English well enough to get his first job. It was at a hotel, and while working there a friend introduced him to a pastry chef. Reynaldo was impressed by the chef’s work and decided to apprentice with him. For the next four years he worked with and learned from his mentor, becoming a pastry chef himself. Seven years later he still works as a pastry chef.
Reynaldo was impressed by his teachers at Mt. Diablo. These adult educators are highly qualified and trained and do their best to promote good communication and a positive, caring, and supportive learning environment. This boosted Reynaldo’s self-esteem and enabled him to get out in the real world and achieve goals. He remembers Dick Corsa, who was fluent in Chinese, held class parties at his home, and spoke to the students of his army days and life lessons learned. One of his more recent instructors, Paulette McWalters, was instrumental in encouraging Reynaldo to use his computer skills in her class to assist other classmates and promoted him as a volunteer to other teachers. Reynaldo says it was the teaching staff and the interactive classroom environment that drew him back to Mt. Diablo Adult Education over and over again throughout the years, first as a student and now as an employee.
Reynaldo’s commitment to furthering his education never diminished, even while costing him some sleep. He continued to work full-time, enrolled in an 18-month long, five-day-a-week computer technology program at Heald College in the evenings, and still attended advanced level ESL classes in the afternoons. It was a grueling schedule that had him starting his baking at four in the morning until noon, and ending his workday late in the evening, but he considered it worth the effort and sacrifice to reach his goals.
His interest in volunteering to help in the ESL computer lab was piqued by his own attendance in ESL classes. The staff, noting his potential, encouraged him to apply for a substitute Senior Instructional Assistant position in the fall of 2003. A year later he was offered a regular assignment. Reynaldo currently works fifteen hours a week at Mt. Diablo Adult Education as a Senior Instructional Assistant (SIA) in the English as a Second Language program. He works one morning and four evenings a week assisting in the classroom, ESL Placement Office, and computer lab. This is in addition to his full-time job as a pastry chef at a high end bakery.
Reynaldo gives credit to the English classes at Mt. Diablo Adult Education for enabling him to obtain, not only the ability to be financially self-sufficient, but also the opportunity to continue his pursuit of higher education, and he shows no sign of slowing down. He dreams of getting a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and says that even if he were to win the lottery, he would still pursue this goal.
Today, Reynaldo is actively involved in his 15-year old daughter’s education and helps other ESL learners with English and computer skills. He stands out as an example of a life-long learner to his family, co-workers, and the students in Mt. Diablo’s ESL program.