Barrett continues support for Speaking and Listening Skills courses

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December 13, 2023 

Media Contact:  
Rachel Evey, foundation executive director, 509-682-6415
Julie Fitch, transitional studies instructor, 509-682-6790 

Barrett continues support for Speaking and Listening Skills courses at WVC 

Ford Barrett, in memory of his wife Marlys, has renewed funding for the English Speaking and Listening Skills courses as part of the Wenatchee Valley College Transitional Studies program.  

The WVC Transitional Studies program offers adult basic education classes, including five levels of English for native and non-native English speakers. The classes are designed to improve reading, writing, speaking, listening and grammar. A recent self-evaluation for the department found that students needed the most help with speaking and listening skills.  

“Our department had recognized the need for this additional instruction and practice to help our students build their English skills more quickly. But it was Ford Barrett's generous offer of support, in honor of his late wife's passion for literacy development, that has allowed our department to initiate and sustain these classes,” said Julie Finch, Transitional Studies instructor.  

The first Speaking and Listening courses were offered in the spring quarter of 2022. WVC offered one section of each level and had 23 students registered in the first quarter. Due to student demand, the Transitional Studies department has opened additional sections each quarter to serve more students. 

Currently, the classes serve an average of 40 students per quarter. Spring quarter 2023 had more than 60 students enrolled in 5 sections.  

"Marlys saw a strong relationship between a person's skill and comfort in reading and speaking in English with their ability to complete academic programs. Encouraging literacy was an extremely important step to ensure student success," shared Ford Barrett. 

 Ford Barrett began funding the courses in honor of his wife, Marlys, who passed away in August 2021. Marlys was an English educator at WVC and demonstrated support beyond the classroom by providing speaking and listening practice for students. Marlys was also a founder of the Hispanic orchard employee education program (HOEEP) at WVC. 

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