Anderson Valley Adult School

Anderson Valley Adult School began in 1992 as a result of a federal Family English Literacy grant designed to provide parents with the English language and cultural skills to help their children succeed in school. Classes in English as a second language, GED, and citizenship preparation classes began in Anderson Valley! The establishment of Family Literacy evenings at the elementary school was an important element of the grant. Once a month a workshop was scheduled to teach parents skills to promote, reading, math, geography—to then teach their children. Parents practiced with the materials provided and then took the materials home to work with their children. Follow-up surveys with the teachers and tracking test scores showed that the children of our adult students highly benefited from this ongoing program in their academic performance.

In 1995 AVAS became an official State adult school and began to receive some funding that corresponded with the adult student attendance. The mission was to provide classes to enhance the role of adults as individuals, parents, workers, and community members. Many grants were written and many more classes emerged including classes for older adults, computer skills, and Spanish classes. More and more AV Adult School graduates were going on to college, attaining better jobs, enriching their own lives, and participating in community events.

The salsa cookbook project became the focus of the morning English class in 2000. With the publication of Secrets of Salsa: A Bilingual Cookbook by the Mexican Women of Anderson Valley and subsequent salsa-tasting events, the Salsitas—any of the women currently attending the English classes—realized they were an important part of our community. Using their English language lessons in real-life situations, they found it was much easier to learn and utilize a new language. Salsitas T-shirts were printed with a logo and The Secret of Salsa is Love on the front. Two local filmmakers created a documentary DVD called Sharing Secrets of Salsa: Mixing English with Community Spirit, and the Salsitas helped to direct the film as well as starring in it. Initially the money from the book and DVD (managed entirely by volunteers so that every centavo earned went to the classes) was applied to add computers or educational materials beyond the budget. The proceeds now help to support core expenses for our school, such as childcare during class time and books for students.

AV Adult School now offers classes for the community in ESL, High School Equivalency, Citizenship, Spanish Literacy for Native Speakers, and Family Literacy.