On most days at 3 p.m., staff members in the Facilities Department at Dunn School usually clock out and head home to their families, after early mornings and long days of maintaining and cleaning the campus.
But in February, several members of the crew have been staying after work — to go back to school.
Last fall, language teachers Alejandra Santos and Ulises Casteñeda launched a new language school, Language to Go, for second-language learners in the Santa Ynez Valley and Central Coast.
The first classes they offered taught English speakers the basics of Spanish language conversation with an intuitive pedagogical technique they use with their students at Dunn. The technique works for any second-language learners, including Spanish speakers wanting to learn and improve their English abilities.
When Dunn’s Head of School Mike Beck heard about their new program, he immediately offered scholarships for anyone in the Facilities Department for whom English is a second language.
“We are proud that the school has provided this opportunity for the staff,” Santos said. “This is a valuable tool. It builds community, and hopefully it will empower the staff to further engage with the students and the faculty.”
Most members of the Facilities Department have been at Dunn for many years —some for more than two decades. While they are familiar with the school and regularly interact with students and other staff, they have welcomed the opportunity to improve their language skills.
“I’m learning a lot of words that I really need to know,” said Victor Marin, a longtime member of the staff. “I learned that I have been using the wrong words for many, many years!”
So how are the new students doing so far?
“They are really enjoying the class,” Santos said. “They are enthusiastic and extremely grateful.”
“Communication in the world and workplace is so important today,” said Director of Facilities Pat Carroll. “It’s great we can model and support that right here at Dunn.”