Chelsea Public Schools - Bridge to Success
Intergenerational Literacy Program - Chelsea Public Schools

Intergenerational Literacy Program
Chelsea Public Schools
99 Hawthorn Street, Chelsea, MA
Barbara Krol-Sinclair, Ed.D., Director

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Intergenerational Literacy Program Background

  • The ILP is in its 28th year of operation. It was begun in 1989 as one of the first elements of the Boston University/Chelsea Public Schools partnership.
  • ESE/Adult & Community Learning Services is the primary funder for the program.
  • For more information please visit:

Family Literacy Programming

  • Our core programming is ESOL family literacy. We currently serve 75 parents and offer 4 ESOL family literacy classes (3 in the morning and 1 in the evening).
  • We offer children’s educational classes to 80 children so that parents are able to attend class. In the morning and evening, we serve children ages 6 months to 5 years. In the evening and during school vacations, we also offer classes for school-aged children.
  • Each ESOL family literacy class is staffed by a teacher and a team of 3 tutors (Boston University undergraduates with Work-Study). Classes are deliberately multilevel and multilingual, and we use a flexible grouping approach so that learners spend most of their class time in small needs-based groups.

Population Served by Intergenerational Literacy Program

  • All parents in these classes are immigrants to the mainland United States. They come from 25 countries and speak 13 different languages. Parents are primarily Latino from Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Parents come from other regions, including East and West Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Cape Verde. On average, parents attended formal schooling for about 8 years, and they describe their English proficiency as limited.

Anthology Pieces

Meet some of our learners and hear their stories.

I Have My Own Heroes and They Are My Inspiration by M. R. from Mexico

I am a regular hard working girl with feelings, hopes, dreams and desire to keep going.

When I was a child, my hero was the cartoon character Wonder Woman, but now I admire my husband, my second brother and my mom because they are the strongest ones dealing with problems in life.

When we were little, my mom had domestic violence issues with my father’s family. They talked about my mom and said bad things about her. She stayed with my father and endured the hitting because she had to take care of all her children and she had nowhere to go.

When my brother grew up, and turned 17 years old, he started drinking alcohol. One of the reasons he started drinking was because my father’s family did the same thing. Now I know he is a responsible person. To be stronger, he is trying all his best to stand firm and not lose track of his life. He has many struggles, even with himself. I don’t feel embarrassed about my brother. Instead, I feel proud of him because he continues to do the best he can. He never gives up.

I also admire my husband because he stopped drinking alcohol 7 years ago. He is sober and I know how much effort he needs to put into that.

Every day I learn something new and I appreciate every day that I breathe and that I have. I enjoy my life. I had a hard childhood. I had depression but my sister said, “Don’t do what they did to you. Do your best.”

When I was a child if I did anything wrong, my parents called me stupid or useless. They said to me, “You don’t do anything right.” It is hard to confront my fears sometimes. But I have to confront them. I feel scared to face my fears, but I learned that it’s okay to try even if I make a mistake. So, I am always saying to my children, “Try again, and again, and again. Everyone makes mistakes and you will be better.”

Here in America, Chelsea, MA, I learned that hitting your children is wrong. Instead, I put them in time out. I don’t yell at them, I try to calm down with them to walk, go enjoy the park, go to the movie theater, and go to the science museum. I like to go outside.

I have learned that children need a boost in their self-esteem in a positive way. I want to be a good role model for my children. I brush my teeth, and I take showers. I work every day. I come to school to learn math and English because I know that school is very important. When my children need help at home or they do something good, I say, “Thank you.” When I request something I say, “Please.” When I do something wrong, I say, “Sorry.” For example: if I lost one of their toys I would say, “Sorry.” One day the teacher Barbara told me, “Believe in yourself.” I thought I was useless, but someone told me I can do it. I should try and fight. I am encouraged to work not only for myself, but also for my family.

My heroes are my inspiration that is why I will persevere.

I Adore My Family by Ana Imelda G. from El Salvador

I live for my family. I have four children. My two daughters are still in my country and my two boys were born here. My oldest daughter, Nora Margarita, is 16. My other daughter, Maria Graciela, is 14. My biggest wish is to celebrate Maria Graciela’s fifteenth birthday, La Quinceañera with her. I hope it is a big party because I did not have a Quinceañera. When my oldest daughter had her big party, she was very happy. There were many different foods: chicken, rice and salad. I miss my daughters a lot.

My older son’s name is Kevin. He is six years old. He is very happy and affectionate. He tells me every day, “I love you, Mommy.” Kevin loves to read books and reads every day with his grandma. My other son’s name is Daniel and he is four years old. He is loving and affectionate with his family, and likes to play with his brother. Sometimes he gets angry with friends when they take his toys. We all live in Chelsea—my sons, my mother-in-law, and my husband Rafael and me.

I adore my family. That is why I study and work very hard to support and care for them

MIS METAS por Carlos M. from Mexico

Para este año 2014 me propuse tres metas que espero poder cumplir con dedicación y mucho esfuerzo. La primera de mis metas es bajar de peso, la segunda es poder obtener mi diploma de HiSet y la tercera es aprender inglés.

Bajar de peso para mi es algo muy duro ya que a mí me gusta comer mucho. Soy de buen apetito a pesar que siempre que voy al hospital a revisarme de rutina mi doctora siempre me dice que debo cuidar mi alimentación. Si no rebajo de peso, mi salud puede estar en problemas porque casi estoy al límite de obesidad. A mí me da miedo la enfermedad del diabitis porque es la enfermedad que mato a mi abuela. Por eso en este año me inscribí a un gym y voy las veces que puedo. Ir al gym es algo que me ayudara a que pueda bajar de peso y comer saludable son las cosas que estoy intentando para poder bajar las 30 libras que me propuse.

Mi segunda meta es de obtener mi diploma de HiSet porque actualmente para conseguir trabajo es un requisito tener ese diploma. Me han contado que es muy difícil. Incluso he llegado a escuchar comentarios que es muy frustrante pero a mi nada de esos comentarios me espanta. Sé que las matemáticas y yo nunca nos hemos llevado pero pondré todo de mi parte para poder ser un buen estudiante y obtener mi tan esperado diploma.

Mi tercera meta es aprender inglés ya que el estar en este país es muy indispensable saber el idioma para poder comunicarse con las personas, ayudar a los hijos con sus tareas, para ir al hospital y no ocupar más de personas que traducen, y para muchas cosas. Mas cuando en tus planes es quedarte en este país es muy necesario dominar el inglés.

En conclusión puedo decir que con dedicación y mucho empeño uno puede cumplir con lo que se propone.

En mi primera meta ya voy perdiendo 8 libras. Es algo que me da más fuerza de voluntad para seguir. En mi segunda meta ya estoy trabajando en eso actualmente. Estoy estudiando mucho y espero poder tener mi Diploma de HiSet para finales de este año y que sea mi regalo de Navidad. La tercera meta puedo decir que voy en el proceso porque he aprendido en mi clase anterior cosas básicas que me ayudan en mi diario vivir y salir adelante. Espero algún día poder estar hablando un buen inglés fluyente y tengo fe que así será.

MY GOALS by Carlos M. - translated by Anais H.

For this year of 2014, I proposed three goals to myself that I hope to fulfill with dedication and effort. My first goal is to lose weight, the second is to obtain my HiSET diploma, and the third is to learn English. To lose weight for me is very hard because I like to eat a lot. I have a big appetite, even though I always go to the hospital for routine checkups. My doctor always tells that I should watch what I eat because if I do not, my health can be in trouble for I am almost at the obesity limit. I am afraid of diabetes because it is the disease that killed my grandmother. Because of that, this year I signed myself up in a gym and I go any time that I can. Now that it is something that will help me lose weight and to eat healthy that I am trying, I hope to lose the thirty pounds I set for myself as a goal.

My second goal is to obtain my HiSET diploma because actually it is a requirement to have that diploma to get a job. People have told me it is very difficult. I have even heard comments that it is very frustrating, but none of those comments scare me. I know that math and I have never taken to each other, but I will do all I canto be able to be a good student and obtain my long-awaited diploma.

My third goal is to learn English, since being in this country it is very essential to know the language to be able to communicate with people, to help the kids with their homework, to go to the hospital and not to use translators, for many things. Even more, when staying in this country is in your plans, it is very necessary to master English.

In conclusion, I can say that with dedication and a lot of commitment one can accomplish what one proposes. In my first goal, I have lost eight pounds. It is something that gives me more willpower to continue. In my second goal, I am now working on that, actually. I am studying a lot and hope to be able to have my HiSET diploma by the end of the year and have it be my Christmas gift. The third goal, I can say that I am in the process, because I have learned basic things in my previous classes that have helped me in my daily life and to get ahead I hope that someday to be able to speak English fluently and have faith that it will be so.

MY NAME by Christopher M., age 3 son of Alma S.

I can write my name.

picture of a written name

WHAT I WISH ABOUT by Edissa N., age 8 daughter of Marcelyne N.

drawing of a wish

I wish that everything was easy. I wish everything was easy because sometimes things are really hard, and especially the MCAS test. When you’re in the MCAS, you can’t use calculators and in reading, you can’t use magnifying glasses. It’s always hard to keep or remember your multiplication tables, and it’s really hard in the MCAS to write from the morning at 8:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. Your hands will get tired and sometimes you won’t get homework when you do the math and reading MCAS. Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate when you’re in the MCAS because you know third grade classes are on the first floor, so the second is on the second floor and they will do tabata [a physical movement activity] and you’ll get a distraction. That’s why 3rd grade and 4th grade are hard, real hard.

To Go to School Is Important by Ntakirutimana Y. from Tanzania - edited with Emily T.

When I was in my country, I was mad and embarrassed that I didn’t go to school. When I needed to write something, I had to go to my friend’s house for help. Some friends didn’t help me. When I came to America, I didn’t speak English. There was a woman from MGH who spoke my language. She told my family and me that it doesn’t matter if you didn’t go to school in your country, in America you will learn English. I said, “How can I do that if I didn’t go to school?” She told me, “I will help you.”

After one month, she came to my house and told me, “I found a school for you.” I was scared because I thought maybe some people would laugh at me. She said, “In America, people don’t care what you do.” I said, “OK, take me there.”

I came to ILP, and they taught me how to write my name, my address, and how many children I have. I made friends in this program. I continue to come every day. Now I read books with my children and I watch TV in English. I try to help my children with homework. I tell them how school is important.

I want to thank the woman from MGH because she helped my family a lot. She still helps my family. My children can have a better life, not like mine. And thank you to ILP for showing me how I can reach my goals.

When I Was a Boy by Jeronimo S. from Mexico

My name is Jeronimo S. I was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. This is my story. I am the number eight of twelve brothers and sisters. When I was a boy, my parents were very poor, but we were happy. One night someone killed my dad. Everything changed for us because my dad was the most important member of my family.

It was terrible for my siblings and me because my mom didn’t have money for food. Every day I was waiting for my father, but he never returned home. I was in second grade in the school. My siblings and I didn’t have uniforms, pencils or shoes. My classmates asked me why I came with the same clothes everyday. I didn’t tell them anything.

I remember when my little sister Delia was sick. Mom went from our home to Mexico City because Delia needed surgery. She had stones in her gall bladder. My mom was looking for economic support from my cousin, Ignacio, in the city.

When my mom was in the city, my sister Cirina, who was only 6 years old, made tortillas for my siblings and me. It was difficult for her because she was a little girl and had a big responsibility.

We were alone for 3 years in the village. My mother stayed in Mexico City during that time. I was 12 years old when I left the school because I had to work in any job I could find. I had to feed my family. My old classmates are teachers in my country now because they had their parents help and could stay in school.

I had to travel to the UNITED STATES with a dream in my mind; to work hard for my two sons so they can one-day study with my support. I wish a good future for them.

It was very difficult for me and I learned many things in life, but I would like for my sons to have a better life.

A SECRET by Karina R., age 4 daughter of Valeria P.

I can’t tell you about this picture. It’s a secret.

picture of a drawing

Why It Is Important to Know English by Maria Teresa R. from El Salvador

It is important to know English because in the USA, it is the principal language. I have a personal experience I would like to share. I remember when I came to this country and wanted coffee from Dunkin Donuts. I went to the restaurant. I was in line to order my coffee, but when the cashier asked me what I wanted, I couldn’t say anything. I left there and cried because I couldn’t understand what she was saying. I was very frustrated.

Since that day I promised myself to learn English because I wanted to be able to understand what others were saying. I started looking for a school and somebody told me about the ILP. I went to ILP and registered for the English classes and ILP called me back to start literacy classes.

A year later, I have learned a lot of English and I even received my citizenship! For this reason, learning English is very important. Now when I go to the Dunkin Donuts, I can order my own coffee.

MY FAVORITE VACATION by Mupenzi T., age 13 son of Bernadette N.

picture of a vacation drawing

My favorite vacation is summer vacation because it’s a time when people, especially kids, get to wear anything they want without wearing heavy boots, coats, gloves, hats and stuff they wear to keep them warm. You could almost play any sport you want in summer. You can visit many different places, families, friends, and special places like the zoo. You could celebrate parties, which is easier because the weather is nice and not so cold. But you mostly do all things in summer vacation more than any other vacations. You can swim in nice warm water like pools, the beach, and water country, and lakes because of the weather. You don’t have to stay inside waiting for the sun to come so you can go outside. You see friends that you haven’t seen in a while.

The last summer vacation was so special for me because I went to Los Angeles. I spent a month visiting places that I have heard other person saying was nice. I went to the Los Angeles Lakers Basketball court. I saw the places where they make movies in Los Angeles. I wish all my vacations would be like the way I want them to be just like the last one. I played my favorite sport (soccer) any time I wanted. I never had such a great summer vacation like the last summer vacation, even though I only spent two summer vacations in U.S.A. But I’d love to spend more summer vacations in the United States because it’s better than ever.

MY LIFE Norma V. Guatemala edited by Yxari G.

I want to tell you about my life. I remember when I was a little girl, my dad liked to work hard on the farm. My dad was born in Mexico, but he came to Guatemala when he was young. He became a citizen of Guatemala. I remember my dad was strict with his children, but with other people he was respectful. My mom was the opposite.

My dad was murdered when I was nine years old. I started an odyssey with my mom, my older sister and only little brother. My mom was very sick. My mom, my sister, her daughter, and my brother moved to a different town because it was very scary where we were.

I remember I went to the capital of Guatemala to work for rich people. It was hard work for me because I had never worked before, and because I had never left my mom. I was a young teenager, but I needed to help my mom. I lived six hours away. It was difficult for me because I had no family in the city. I only visited my mom on holidays.

Afterwards, I bought a small house in the capital of Guatemala. My mom lived with me for one month, but my mom liked to live in a small town. I love my mom because she was a loving mother.

I remember when I came to the U.S., my mom was sad. My mom died 16 years ago in Guatemala, but I couldn’t go back because I had two daughters and I didn’t have papers at that time.

To all those who have their parents, appreciate them, whether they are strict or loving. We should love our parents while we still have them.

I would like to thank God for my life. Although I had my last child later in my life, I now have five children. They are the reason why I live today.

I want to thank everyone that makes ILP possible. Thank you to the teachers and the tutors for being patient with me.

Videos on Intergenerational Literacy Program

Additional Programming

  • We also offer 3 leveled ESOL classes and 3 Spanish Adult Basic Education and HiSET (high school equivalency) classes in the afternoon and evening, as well as supplemental instruction that includes computer literacy classes, distance learning classes (learning content online), conversation groups, and transition to college courses.
  • Our waiting list for both the family literacy program and the above noted additional programming has more than 880 prospective adult learners.

ILP Schedule

  • ILP ESOL family literacy classes are offered Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8:30 to 10:30 AM.
  • A Spanish HiSET (high school equivalency) is offered on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday afternoons from 3:00 to 5:00 PM.
  • ESOL family literacy, ESOL 1, ESOL 2, ESOL 3, Spanish ABE, and Spanish HiSET classes are offered Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 6:00 to 8:15 PM.

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