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1500 West Agency Road
West Burlington, Iowa,52655
LARISA CONNERWest Burlington School Board candidate Larisa Conner believes her insight as a parent would make her a good addition to the board."Having both kids in school, I know what's going on in the schools.It's easy for me to see the current issues," Conner said.Conner said her interest in running for a school board seat stemmed from her four-year involvement in West Burlington's school improvement advisory committee."We analyzed a lot of data for the high school and elementary school.It opened my eyes on what's going on there, the needs of the students," Conner said.For nearly a decade, Conner has taught English as a second language courses at Southeastern Community College.She and her husband, Warren, have two children, a son who is a junior at WBHS and a daughter enrolled in second grade at West Burlington Elementary School.
"American education is valued all over the world, and to get an education from an American college is very prestigious," said Larisa Conner, who teaches English as a second language at SCC and sponsors the club.A native of Russia, Conner brought the stolichniy to the dinner.Conner didn't want to share her recipe, but said it includes everything, "but the kitchen sink."Ironically, a student from Venezuela brought the exact same dish, however, in Venezuela the dish is called ensalada Rusa (Russian salad), Conner said.Larisa Conner, left, talks with Southeastern Community College softball players, from right, Johana Gomez, Megan Pezley, Sheila Finnell and Breann Gibson at the fourth annual SCC multi-cultural Thanksgiving Dinner.
Organized by SCC English as a Second Language teacher Larissa Conner, the event was attended by representatives of seven of Iowa's other 14 community colleges. In addition to Southeastern, community colleges represented at the meeting included Western Iowa Tech in Sioux City; Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny; Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa; Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids; Iowa Valley Community College in Marshalltown; and Eastern Iowa Community College in Davenport. Only community colleges that offer ESL classes on a credit basis were invited to be members of the association, although Conner said the group wants to work not only with non-credit ESL programs but also university-level programs in Iowa. The association was the result of a meeting of ESL instructors in April as part of a state-wide initiative to establish common course numbering among the 15 two-year schools. Conner said that with a formal association, the instructors and program directors will have a venue for common program planning and a ready-made communication network to share ideas and ask for advice. "We will learn from each other," Conner said.John Kalkwarf, director of the Success Center at Iowa Valley Community College in Marshalltown and an ESL teacher there, whom Conner credited with spawning the idea for an association, said the value of networking with other ESL program people is that they each run across the same set of problems. Looking long-term, Conner said she hopes the association can help the ESL staff at each community college develop a strong bridge for drawing members of the immigrant community into the college, and helping with the recruitment of international students.
SCC English as a Second Language instructor Larissa Conner pointed out that students from more than 50 countries are enrolled at the college. "Our community is becoming very much more diverse," she said.
Larissa Conner, a native Russian who taught English as a foreign language to students in her home country and in Germany before coming to the U.S. five years ago, is the instructor. Conner, who joined the faculty this year after four years working in the ABE program, is not Southeastern's first ESL instructor.Conner said the point is to get those students to interact in a classroom setting with native English speakers. The idea, Conner said, is to get her students up to the point where they can graduate alongside their English-speaking schoolmates. Unless an extension is granted, students on I-20 visas have four semesters to pass the English proficiency test, become full-time students in a degree or career program and to graduate.Conner said her students are motivated to learn. "Around the world," she said, "it is very prestigious to go and study in the U.S."