For Immediate Release:
October 24, 2022
Primary Media Contact:
Public Relations Specialist
Twice a week, a group of employees gather after their shift at the Trex Railing Warehouse for classes that will not only improve their work skills, but also their life skills.
During those four hours each week, they’re learning English in ESL classes provided through the Adult Education Program at Laurel Ridge Community College.
Having the classes begin at 2:15 p.m. on-site is much more manageable for the employees who start their work at 6 a.m. than off-site ESL classes which would normally begin later in the evening would be.
“It has been really great,” said Dan Aguirre, senior distribution and transportation manager for Trex in Winchester. “We’re really thankful for Laurel Ridge providing the training. Employees are very enthusiastic about the opportunity to receive ESL training.”
He has already seen an improvement in communication among the employees as a result of the classes.
More than 100 people work at the railing warehouse on Apple Valley Road, and about three-fourths of them are native Spanish speakers, according to Aguirre.
“There’s a lot of friends and family here,” he said. “The culture and the family atmosphere are pretty impressive here.”
Trex logistics supervisor Estefany Rosales, kitting logistics supervisor Brian Kelly, human resources manager Gerald Romero and human resources generalist Evelyn Lugo were instrumental in bringing the program to the site.
The first class is made up of employees who have leadership roles and therefore a great deal of interaction with coworkers, but Aguirre said it’s hoped that future classes will enroll employees who work more on the factory floor.
He said Romero approached Sharon Hetland, director of Adult Education at Laurel Ridge, about creating the class. Hetland said the class has been specially designed to teach language skills that correlate to the job. This includes job-related vocabulary and phrases, respectful communication and leadership language.
“Trex is really invested in their employees,” she said. “They want this to be rolled out to many different people. They really care about the culture and respect and helping to develop leaders. They embraced the idea that these language skills won’t just help their employees on the job, but in their everyday lives, too.”
“Being able to communicate makes life significantly easier,” he said. “It empowers them.”
ESL instructor Mady Rodriguez, who is also a Laurel Ridge alumna, is “very committed to this Hispanic population,” Hetland said.
“She really was great with working with Trex to tailor the curriculum to exactly what they need,” Hetland said.
Ernelys Lemus is a forklift driver and is working hard to improve both her vocabulary and her pronunciation.
“I enjoy learning small talk about work,” she said.
Team leader assistant Elbia Reyes said she likes “everything” about the class.
“I love the class because I need more practice in English and in writing,” she said. “I’m very happy about this class. The teacher is a good teacher.”
Rodriguez is proud of the perseverance shown by her students.
“I think that their determination is wonderful,” she said. “I’m very happy that Trex has invested in their employees to do this.”
Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With four locations — Middletown, Warrenton, Luray-Page County and most recently, Vint Hill— the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.
Laurel Ridge Community College (Laurel Ridge) is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College. Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment.
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.