Miami Middletown event highlights immigrant student success

Published: Friday, July 07, 2017 @ 6:00 PM

Miami Middletown event highlights immigrant student success

They collectively spoke 12 languages — French, Twi, Spanish, Khmer, Chinese, Korean, Portugese, Vietnamese, Nepali, Arabic, Uzbek, and Russian — and came from 15 different countries, but on Friday these high school students were focused only on English.

Thirty-three students from Fenwick, Middletown, Fairfield, Monroe and Centerville high schools gathered at the Miami University Middletown campus to celebrate the end of the college’s English Language Center’s first intensive high school summer program. 

MORE: International student ranks swelling at Miami Middletown

“(Miami University Regionals’) dean and administrators want to be a better area partnership to our high schools,” ELC Regional Director Jerry Martin said. “We want to collaborate more. We don’t just want our students to come and enroll at Miami University Regionals, we want them to also be successful, so the earlier we can reach them the better for everybody.”

The pilot program, funded from the ELC’s programming budget, lasted five and a half hours a day for eight weeks, according to Martin, during which students were required to speak only in English.

Martin joked about scolding a student for greeting him with “hola” and then slipping up himself by saying “audios” later that day.

The program’s students had varying degrees of English proficiency before starting the program, and some had only lived in America for six months, but “every single one that joined this summer moved forward,” Martin said. The program boosted students’ confidence in their ability to speak, read, write and present in English, as Martin observed while reading reflections they wrote about halfway through the course.

RELATED: International students’ impact in Ohio: $1.1 billion

Each high school participant delivered a presentation on an endangered species, the culminating project of the course, to college ELC students, and received a certificate of completion.

Rising Fairfield junior Lisbeth Jimenez Maradiaga, for example, said that while she would have given her English skills a 49 percent grade before the program, she would now say they are closer to 90 percent or even 100 percent.

“I have been in the U.S. for almost three years,” said Maradiaga, who immigrated from Honduras. “But in high school I have a lot of friends who speak Spanish, so (I thought that) I didn’t need to speak English. But in this program it’s only English, no Spanish, no other language, so it’s helped me because I spent seven or six hours in here with only English, I hear a lot of English and speak English.”

Another Fairfield student, rising junior Vanessa Prempeh, said that though she was good at English before, she participated in the program because she “wanted to be perfect.” Now she can more easily understand American English speakers, something she struggled with before.

Several teachers and administrators from participating high schools were also present to celebrate their students’ accomplishments, including Fairfield ESL teacher Sonia Aguila, who was able to observe her students’ growth first hand.

“Just seeing them here being able to be more fluent in (English), in speaking and presenting and not being embarrassed about speaking English, (is very exciting), Aguila said. “Speaking with the other teachers that work with them, I have heard amazing things about all the work that they put into learning English, which makes me very proud.”

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Pinning ceremony honors new VA Medical Center director Jill Dietrich 

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 7:14 PM

Jill Dietrich
Veteran Affairs
Jill Dietrich(Veteran Affairs)

Newly appointed VA Medical Center Director Jill Dietrich's pinning ceremony was held this afternoon, marking the first time a woman has been sworn in to the leadership role in the VA’s 150 year history. 

"I was just extremely happy to be joining the ranks of the senior executive service and come lead the Dayton VA Medical Center, " said Dietrich. 

RELATED: New Dayton VA director will be first woman in 150-year history 

Dietrich says she wants to create a high level of trust with the veterans and increase employee engagement. 

"Listening sessions, and walking around talking to people and tours, the culture here is phenomenal. "People here care and they want to do what is best for the veterans," said Dietrich. 

The Dayton VA has faced issues in the past, from a dental hygiene scandal in 2011 where a dentist was accused of not changing gloves between patients. 

In 2015, a whistleblower brought attention to a patient backlog in the pulmonary clinic. 

Officials say improvements have been made locally. 

The VA is currently facing national issues like concerns over hiring enough qualified staff and providing timely patient access to healthcare. 

The top of the VA is also facing problems.  

President Donald Trump fired VA secretary David Shulkin last month, and has nominated White House doctor Navy Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson to take his place. 

Dietrich says despite what's going on with the VA in Washington, the mission does not change at the local level here in Dayton.

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Retired nurse tried to save dying woman on terrifying Southwest flight

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 5:40 PM

Who Was Jennifer Riordan?

A retired nurse aboard the frightening Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 on Tuesday jumped into action when flight attendants called for medical help for an injured passenger who was almost sucked out of a broken window.

>> Read more trending news 

One of the jet’s engines exploded in midair about 30 minutes after the plane took off from New York’s La Guardia Airport enroute to Dallas, sending metal shrapnel into the plane and fatally injuring passenger Jennifer Riordan.

Peggy Phillips and an EMT on the flight tried to save Riordan, performing CPR for 20 minutes until the jet made an emergency landing in Philadelphia. 

>> Related: Blown Southwest jet engine shows evidence of 'metal fatigue,' NTSB says

“My training was awesome and I just did what I do. It kicked in and I did what needed to be done, what any registered nurse would do,” Phillips said in an interview with ABC News.

But Phillips later said she knew it was hopeless. “It just wasn’t going to be enough,” she told WCAU-TV.

“It happened so fast,” she told WFAA. “If you can possibly imagine going through the window of an airplane at about 600 mph and hitting either the fuselage or the wing with your body, your face, then I think I can probably tell you there was significant trauma.”

>> Related: Who is Tammie Jo Shults, pilot of Southwest flight that had engine explosion?

And there was. Riordan died from her injuries. The Philadelphia medical examiner ruled Riordan’s death an accident and said she died from blunt force trauma.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident.

This April 17, 2018 photo provided by Marty Martinez shows the window that was shattered after a jet engine of a Southwest Airlines airplane blew out at altitude, resulting in the death of a woman who was nearly sucked from the window during the flight of the Boeing 737 bound from New York to Dallas with 149 people aboard, shown after it made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.(Marty Martinez/AP)

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Local Republican congressman says Trump’s Syria strike ‘unconstitutional’

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 6:17 PM
Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 6:17 PM

Congressman Warren Davidson, R-Troy
Congressman Warren Davidson, R-Troy

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, said President Donald Trump’s decision to launch a retaliatory strike against Syria for using chemical weapons against its own people was “unconstitutional.”

RELATED: Ohio members of Congress react to US-Syria action

“There is no authority to do that,” Davidson said during a meeting with the Dayton Development Coalition. He said while it’s appropriate for Trump to launch a pre-emptive strike if, for example, an attack on the U.S. was imminent “our founders addressed this.” He said the founders made it clear that the key difference between a king and a president was that while both command the Army, the king can make war, “but in the United States, the legislature makes war.”

“This was not a preemptive strike,” he said. “It was a retaliatory strike against the Syrian government for acting against Syrians and there is no authority for the president to do that. None.”

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Layer Park opening could be delayed a few months

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 5:15 PM

Layer Park opening could be delayed a few months

The reopening of Layer Park in Miami Twp. could take a couple more months, despite the sign out front indicating "Park will open in Spring 2018." 

The park has been shut down since January 2016 because of high levels of lead and arsenic found in the ground. 

The lead and arsenic was initially found back in 2013, when the park was the site of a former shooting range.

Those tests only came to light in early 2016, in what the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) admitted was a big mistake. 

The federal EPA used more than $3 million from a super fund to clean up the park, costing the township nothing. 

EPA work initially wrapped up in October, but the grassy areas still need more work, we've been told. 

Dave Hill, a resident who lives next to the park, is glad the digging and hauling of dirt is over so he can regain some peace and quiet. 

"Big semi trucks, hauling it out, all that earth moving equipment back there, steam shovels," Hill said. 

Township contractors installed a new play set, basketball hoop, and planted 60 new trees. 

The parking lot has also been redone. 

Hill says the reopening can't come soon enough, and is hopeful the park will reopen soon so he can take his grand kids.

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