Lucia Mar Adult Education
Born in Tepehuaje, Jalisco, Mexico in 1962, Alma Flores grew up attending local schools through sixth-grade. That’s when she was removed from school resisting her father’s opinion that ";the girls only need to know how to make tortillas." She accepted the only training available to her—clothing construction. Finally, her father allowed her to continue in junior high school. Then she gained a year of training in health care as part of a social service institute project. Next was a two–year accounting technician program, which served as high school. Following "high school" her sister told her about a preschool teacher program, and together they convinced their father to allow them to attend the university in Estipac, Jalisco, for four years. Alma earned her degree and certification as a preschool teacher in 1985, and in November, married her supportive husband, Esteban Flores.
Alma's work history for the next several years reflected her love of children. After a year as a preschool teacher in Poncitlan, she took six months off for the birth of her first daughter in 1987. Later that year, she worked in a Guadalajara school readiness project, similar to the Head Start program in this country. The births of her second daughter in 1988 and third daughter in 1990 made full–time employment difficult, but Alma continued working as a substitute in her daughters' school for six months in 1990.
In February 1993, pregnant with her fourth daughter, Alma and her family moved to Oceano, near San Luis Obispo on California’s beautiful central coast. Caring for a growing family made it difficult to find work as a preschool teacher, so Alma became a stay-at-home mom. She remained close to the education community by volunteering in her daughter’s school, helping with reading, preparing classroom materials, and in class activities, absorbing all the English she could along the way.
Without a high school diploma to qualify her for employment in preschool education, Alma worked in a motel for two years, learning more English on the job. She also took classes at St. Francis Church from a volunteer ESL teacher. She tried something different in 1997, a job in a tire repair material factory in the nearby town of Grover Beach, but after one year, she lost that job. "My boss told me that I could not continue in my job, because I was not capable to contribute new ideas to improve the company and I did not speak English." she explains, "At this time I felt bad, but I understood the position of my boss, because it was impossible to communicate with them in English." This motivated her to study English at the local community college. She started with ESL Level 2 and continued through regular English and Early Childhood Education (ECE) courses.
In April of 2002 she was hired by the EOC (Economic Opportunity Commission) as a substitute teacher's aide and was assigned to work at the Even Start program at the Oceano Learning Center. Seeing her level of expertise, Lucia Mar Adult Education wanted to hire Alma directly, but even with a college degree from Mexico and several U.S. college courses behind her, she still needed a high school diploma to qualify for employment with the school district. So, through Adult Education, Alma returned to high school in August of 2002. First her Mexican transcripts were analyzed to give her credit for her previous education. As with many educated immigrants, Alma needed only U.S. History and American Government courses to earn her high school diploma. Then she was placed in the Adult Independent Studies program, meeting with her teacher one hour per week. Adding 15 hours per week of study to her 20 hours of employment and the full–time duties of wife and mother wasn’t easy. Nevertheless, Alma completed the courses in time to graduate in June of 2003 and was employed by Lucia Mar Adult Education in the Even Start program almost immediately.
In October of 2004 Alma received her Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Education (ECE). She says working part–time in Even Start, and evenings as a CBET tutor assisting adult English learners, gives her time to help her daughters at school and continue her own college education. She is currently taking classes at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria. She plans to eventually become a head teacher with Even Start.
Lucia Mar Adult Education played a short but very significant role in Alma's varied education path and helped her move to the next stepping-stone in her career path. In her work for Lucia Mar Adult Education's Even Start program, which now supplies its own preschool education component, Alma supervises parents and helps them improve their parenting and child literacy skills, working one-on-one and in small groups.
"I consider myself to be a tenacious person capable of making my dreams come true, always giving my all to accomplish my goals," says Alma. Lucia Mar Adult Education is proud to help people like Alma achieve their dreams and improve the lives of their family and community.