By Lawrence Hardy
Khanh Le, a recent immigrant from Vietnam, was extremely
quiet when he started the automotive class at Madison Park High School in
Boston’s disadvantaged Roxbury neighborhood. That was understandable: The
20-something young man, who was trying to support his parents and younger
brother, knew little English, let alone the technical language he would need to
be an entry-level technician.
But Chris Albrizio,
director of the Asian American Community Association (AACA), saw that Le had
intelligence, talent, and something even AACA’s collaborative program with the
Boston Public Schools couldn’t teach.
“Even though his English skills were low, you could
definitely see his passion for cars,” Albrizio says.
Before long, Le’s English was improving and he was becoming
more animated in class. Now he is fulfilling his dream of working with cars as
a technician for a Toyota dealership in Boston. And given his gifts -- and the
company’s reputation for ongoing job training -- there’s no telling where he
might go from there.
Le’s is one success
story in one of the nation’s most comprehensive school-district-run job
training and adult education programs. Some 1,200 learners are served in
Boston’s adult education programs, says Maria Harris, director of the
district’s department of adult learning and community services. Le is one of 39
graduates of the automotive program, which serves about 14 students in each
class, who are now working in the field.
Examples of other widely respected district-run job
training and other education programs for adults can be found in places like
Chicago; Portland, Ore.; and Newport, Vt., near the rural, mountainous border
“It’s not unusual for
rural schools to offer adult education,” says Robert McHaffey, director of
communications for the Rural School and Community Trust, in Washington, D.C.
“In many instances, they’re the only facility with the capacity in town.”
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