Winnie Eng

Montebello Community Adult Schools

Winnie Eng came to Monterey Park from Hong Kong in the late 70's so her husband could take a job with the Los Angeles Times. She had been a pre-school teacher in Hong Kong, but because of her limited ability to speak English a pre-school job wasn’t available to her. She ended up working a factory job that she didn’t like. Later, she was able to find work in a bakery.

After a few years she gave birth to two sons. When the oldest was kindergarten age and she registered him in the local elementary school, someone told her that there were adult school classes on site with childcare for her younger son. That was 1985, and the beginning of a big change in Winnie's appreciation of her life in this country.

Winnie was a quick learning student. After a short nine months in class, she was asked to assist the teacher with translation for Mandarin and Cantonese speaking students when speakers would address the class, and on other occasions when clear understanding was required. Proving to be a gifted translator, Winnie was very helpful to her fellow students.

After three years, Winnie took the Instructional Assistant exam and was able to work in the same classroom where she had been assisting the teacher. Her professionalism and ability to work with people has made her a great asset to the adult school. She is very adept at helping new students transition with ease into the American classroom.

Winnie transferred into a continuation high school about a year later, and began working with a completely different student population than she was used to. At first, she was a bit intimidated by the rough manner of some of the students, but quickly learned that "as they get older they get more respectful," and they become likeable and teachable as one gets to know them. "They know they need to pass the CAHSEE and need English and math tutoring, so they cooperate with us." The caring, conscientious and efficient way she performs her tasks has always made her invaluable to any teacher with whom she works.

Winnie is a very hard worker, and although she has a position with benefits at the continuation school, she is also employed in a nearby elementary school district so that she can "return to her roots" and work with younger students. At her second job, Winnie often works in the resource room with lower level and younger students. She also works with students who are newcomers to this country, tutoring them in the skills they need. She loves "to be around the little ones".

If this isn't enough, Winnie sometimes tutors in math and English in her own free time. "Sometimes when children first come to this country they need help to participate in school with their classmates," she says, "so sometimes I'll help them do that."

Winnie is grateful to Montebello Adult School for providing an avenue for her to make a meaningful life here. Most of her personal friendships are a result of her days as an adult school student, student assistant and instructional assistant. She claims that adult school reshaped her life and helped to make her a success.

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