François Agwala, Xavier Botana, and Axels Samuntu

Axels Samuntu is originally from the small town of Kolwezi in Katanga Province, DR Congo. On November 6, the student body at Portland Adult Education (PAE) elected him to serve as the first-ever PAE representative to the Portland School Board. At the school board meeting on April 23, he provided his second update about PAE.

He and PAE Director Anita St. Onge met with groups of students on January 30 and March 14. The topic of the meetings was how to make PAE a more welcoming place. Students told Ms. St. Onge and Mr. Samuntu that they needed more reliable Wi-Fi service. The Portland Public Schools Information Technology Department has promised improvements to Wi-Fi service in the near future.

The students also told Ms. St. Onge and Mr. Samuntu that they needed access to more intensive ESOL classes. They said that intensive classes would increase the number of students earning their high school diploma or equivalency credential each year. They pointed out that if students learned English more quickly, PAE could reduce waiting lists. PAE is piloting an intensive language class and plans to offer more intensive classes when funding becomes available.

Mr. Samuntu also reported to the school board about the April 11 graduation of the inaugural cohort of the Education Academy. The Education Academy is a program of the New Mainers Resource Center (NMRC) at Portland Adult Education and serves foreign-trained teachers who would like to work in Maine schools. Graduates of the program will have credentials to work in public schools as Educational Technicians (Ed Techs) or as substitute teachers, and also may work toward teacher certification.

Portland Adult Education serves a highly diverse population of nearly 4,000 students who come from over 82 countries in southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South America. Mr. Samuntu invited school board members to visit PAE.