Serving the under-served with education, training

It can be easy to forget the struggles of people who need a hand up to achieve their next success. Life is exponentially more difficult when you struggle to learn the language, or need to achieve a degree. Doors are closed and opportunities are limited. That’s where the Iowa Valley Education and Training Center (ETC) comes in.

The ETC, located in Marshalltown, oversees the high school equivalency (HSED), English as a Second Language (ESL), and citizenship programs. Nearly 500 students attend classes throughout the year to improve their English and basic skills, obtain their high school diplomas – formerly GED – prepare for the U.S. citizenship exam, or obtain other training credentials. Students’ educational goals vary, but all students are able to better their lives and the lives of their families by getting a job, being promoted, continuing their higher education, assisting their children with schoolwork, or becoming an U.S. citizen.

Denise Castillo is one of our many inspiring adults who participates in English classes at the ETC. Denise moved to Iowa from Mexico and has lived in the U.S. for seven years. Denise said that studying English is important to her because it is the best tool for developing a life in a new country, and she pointed out that learning the common language allows her to be more engaged in the community. The classes have changed her life. Now she feels more confident when speaking with native English speakers and feels proud that she does not need a translator when taking family members to the doctor.

Denise and her husband own a small landscaping and lawn care business, and Denise is proud that she can use the English skills she learned at the ETC to help the business thrive. She says the ETC has helped her reach her goals because every new English word that she learns gives her an advantage in life. She wants to attend college and get a degree in business, or a related field, to help with her career in interior design and landscaping.

Denise admitted, “Life is hard when you are in a hurry to reach your goals. Something I have to learn is to be patient.”

It takes hard work and dedication to learn a new language, but Denise has demonstrated both of those skills as a student at the ETC. Her story is remarkable, but not unique. Everyone who walks through the door has a story and a desire to improve – and we’re here to help. The ETC can provide classes and other resources to help people achieve their goals.

The Education and Training Center is located at 206 E. Church Street in Marshalltown, with additional training centers in Poweshiek, Tama and Hardin counties. For information on classes and programs, review the website at ce.iavalley.edu/adult-literacy/, or contact Patty Mendoza.


Christine Eige is the Adult Literacy

Instructor/Curriculum Designer for IVCCD.


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