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El Centro de Oportunidades


El Centro de Oportunidades

Community Outreach Program


To empower Hispanic Adults who have few resources by bringing new energy, ideas and change to their families and community through education. 

El Centro de Oportunidades strives to improve the quality of life of families living in the area around Mount Saint Mary High School through education.  Our focus is to provide English as a second language (ESL), GED and Citizenship classes to the adult Hispanic community.  We offer two sessions per year, with evening classes meeting three times per week.  Over 70% of our students are females. For those in need, childcare is provided during class hours. Approximately 50% of the students per session return for further instruction.   Our goal is to help the Hispanic community increase their English proficiency and help our families break the cycle of poverty.  Through a partnership with Catholic Charities, we offer U.S. Citizenship training for qualifying students.



In August 2011, we implemented a campaign to find an official logo for our program. Students were given 3 months to submit original art and the message they wanted convey.  All entries were displayed and the artists were given the opportunity to explain their art to the student body. Students were instructed to choose the entry that better represented El Centro de Oportunidades.  Ivan Huitz’s entry was chosen, he offered the following explanation:

Olive Branch:  Pay tribute to the state of Oklahoma.

Dove: Faith, hope, a new start.  Pace of mind both knowing we are working for a better future & feeling safe attending classes at MSM.

Adult & Child Silhouette: Parent empowering the next generation (child) through education.  The silhouette is looking forward to a better future.



Class Schedule

ESL -(English as a Second Language) Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 6:30PM to 8:30PM

GED -Wednesday 5:00PM to 8:00PM

Citizenship -Wednesday 6:30PM to 8:30PM

Childcare - (limited Space) Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 6:30PM to 8:30PM


ESL Instructors

Introduction Level: Gustavo Tafoya

Level I: Barbara Rivas-Lopez

Level II: Linda Lopez and Griselda Chairez

Level III: Rafael Prado

Level IV: Wendy Ibanez


GED Instructor:        Cindy Persons

CTZ Instructor:        Margie Solis


Childcare Workers:   

Coordinator: Kathrin Gordon

Worker: Alejandra Martinez

Worker: Marilu Gonzalez

Worker: Gricelda DeLoera

Worker: Cecilia Cabrales

Worker: Karla Juarez   


ESL Instructors Bios:

Gustavo Tafoya                    

I am from Lagos de Moreno, a little town in the State of Jalisco, Mexico, where tequila and mariachi are said to have originated. For the past six years, I have worked as a housing case manager for the Housing Opportunities for People with Aids (HOPWA) at the Latino Community Development Agency. In August, 2012 I became an ESL instructor with "El Centro de Oportunidades", teaching people from different countries, like Peru, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Etc. It is important to know how much a person can offer to others. Personally, I feel a huge responsibility with my community, knowing that I can contribute something to them. It makes me happy when, at the end of the semester, I see how we can change lives. The satisfaction is really amazing.


Barbara Rivas-Lopez         

I was born in Monagas, Venezuela. During the day, I serve as Assistant Director of a non-profit organization known as Dentists for the Disabled and Elderly in Need of Treatment, Inc. (D-DENT). I started working as an ESL instructor with "El Centro de Oportunidades" in January, 2013. My enthusiasm for the program, and my enjoyment at being able to participate in it, hinges on various factors.  I feel that my role is not only to help the students improve their English, but to help them bridge the cultural gaps they may encounter.   I enjoy teaching them study skills and helping them improve their communication skills and other life skills that are necessary for social interactions, such as work, medical and school visits, etc.   In addition, I feel great pride as well as pleasure in being able to interact with, and to serve, the Latino community.


Linda Lopez                    

I was born in the U.S.A. & work for the Oklahoma School District ELL Parapro.

I have been an English instructor for "El Centro de Oportunidades" for one year.

I feel this is a wonderful program which gives Hispanics a great opportunity to better themselves, both in the English Language and in everyday life issues.  Personally, I enjoy working with my students; I see their enthusiasm and desire to learn.  They rarely miss class unless it is because of work or personal problems.


Griselda Chairez                 

I was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I work as a Bilingual Paraprofessional at an elementary school during the day. I have worked there for the past nine years. I have been an English instructor for "El Centro de Oportunidades" since September. Even though it has only been a short time since I started I really enjoy being an instructor because I have seen tremendous improvements in the adults we work with not only with their English skills but also with their confidence by boosting their self esteem.


Rafael Prado                

I am from Venezuela, South America.  I am self-employed during the day and I have been with associated with "El Centro de Oportunidades" as an ESL Instructor for the last 4 years (since August, 2009). The ESL Program at Mount St. Mary is a program directed to the Hispanic Community to improve the quality of their lives by teaching them the English language and helping them to learn how to cope with every day struggles.  The students come from all walks of life and that in itself adds value to my personal growth. They become like a second family, not only to me but to everyone involved with the program.  It has been a blessed experience to be part of the program and to be able to help families become better citizens while striving to achieve the American Dream.      


Wendy Ibanez                     

I was born in Guatemala.  For the past 9 years, I have worked at an elementary school during the day as a bilingual teacher assistant.  I have been an English instructor for "El Centro de Oportunidades" for a year and a half.  I enjoy being an English instructor and have seen much improvement in our students, not just in their English skills but also with their self esteem.  It amazes me what the power of knowledge brings, they have gained that power and also the will to strive to better themselves.  I tell my students “if you are better today than you were yesterday, you have done well.”  


Citizenship Instructor:

Margie Solis                           

I am the Director of the Immigration Legal Services of Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.  I earned a Juris Doctorate degree in 2000 from University of Oklahoma Law School in Norman.  My current practice focuses on issues arising in immigration law.  Since admission to the bar in 2001, I also have practical experience in the areas of family law, and general civil litigation as a Staff Attorney at Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma.  I am a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association.  I have been with Catholic Charities, Immigration Legal Services since June 2003.

I believe that the citizenship class is a great service provided to the community that encourages Permanent Residents and guides them in applying for Naturalization in the United States.


Annual Program Budget (FY14): $92,500


Estimated Expenditure per Participant (FY14): $342.59


Participation (Fall 2013):


  •          This semester there are 99 participants in the ESL program.
  •          This semester there are 19 participants in the GED program.
  •          This semester there are 17 participants in the Citizenship program.



Childcare (Fall 2013):


Participants using childcare: 55 (46 females & 9 males)


Participants with multiple children in childcare: 27


Number of Children Enrolled: 88


Program Information:

  • The ESL program has 144 students enrolled with 99 attending on a regular basis.  The current semester runs from August 20, 2013 to December 19, 2013.  Classes are held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 6:30pm to 8:30 pm.  Currently, we offer four levels of classes which range from Introductory Level to Level IV.  Level IV was implemented last year to accommodate students reaching higher levels.
  • GED classes have 25 students enrolled with 19 attending on a regular basis.  It is a self-paced, ongoing program. Classes are Wednesdays from 5:00pm to 8:00 pm.  The last session of GED Classes had two confirmed GED recipients. No fee is collected for this class.
  • The Citizenship program has 25 students enrolled with 17 attending on a regular basis.  Classes are held Wednesdays from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.  The Citizenship program targets students with the ability to take the Citizenship test in English.  Through a partnership with the Immigration Department of Catholic Charities, students get a free legal consultation and qualification verification.  The final exam is a practice interview.
  • Childcare is provided at no cost for children ranging in ages from 6 months to 10 years old while parents attend classes.  We currently have 88 children enrolled. Each week, the following programs are provided for the children:


    1. Homework Assistance Program – MSM Spanish Honor Society Students help our children with homework and reading proficiency.  The children have a separate room were the MSM student volunteers are their tutors.
    2. Tumbling class – Every Wednesday, students are instructed by ex-Olympiad Kathrin Gordon.  26 children are currently enrolled in this program.
    3. Robotic Program- Every Thursday, students are instructed by  MSM teacher Magi Whitaker and her Robotic program students to prepare for an upcoming junior competition to be held on November 23, 2013 at the MSM Gym. The MSM Robotic program is sponsoring two teams this year with 8 children participating per team.  The MSM robotic students sponsored a “jean Day” and collected funs to cover the entry fee for our two teams.



Future: English for ResultsFuture is an engaging 6-level, four-skills adult English language course that addresses the diverse needs of adult learners – those preparing to transition to career or post-secondary education, those wanting to help their children and those studying English to improve their own lives. 

Future is designed to help students persist in their English studies while developing the interpersonal skills necessary for success in the 21st century such as working collaboratively, planning and prioritizing, directing one’s own learning, and solving complex problems creatively. 

Future: English for Results offers a single solution for multilevel classroom instruction preparing students for both college and career pathways addressing essential work skills and literacy in the areas of global, digital, civics, financial, and health. 


Program Highlights:

  • Standards-based and correlated to all major state and national adult education ESL standards
  • Casas-style listening activities and performance-based assessments
  • Comprehensive approach to writing development, numeracy and computation skills, and reading development.
  • Adaptable for programs of any size with timed lesson plans, teaching tips, and suggestions for multilevel classrooms
  • Professional development and hands-on guidance about using the series to its fullest potential.

Components Used:

  • Student Book with Practice plus CD-ROM allows students to direct their own learning, working on what they need and practicing what they choose to work on.
  • Workbook with Audio CD gives students access to more listening practice and allows students to devote their time to the lessons and specific skill areas that they need to work on most.
  • Classroom Audio CDs provide practice with conversations, vocabulary, grammar, reading, and life skill competencies.
  • Teacher’s Edition and Lesson Planner offers multilevel options for pair and group activities, as well as numerous extension activities designed to reach students at all levels.
  • Multilevel Communicative Activities Book provides reproducible activities and games that engage students through different multilevel activities.
  • Tests and Test Prep Book with ExamView ® Assessment Suite allows teachers to print out multi-level tests and to customize existing tests to their own needs.

Program Levels:


Future Intro is the first volume in the six-level series. It is designed for True Beginners, or those who scored less than 180 on a CASAS Reading exam, which is generally considered literacy level. Intro is appropriate as a core text for courses that adhere to most standards for literacy-level courses.


Future Level 1 is the second volume in the six-level series. It is designed for Low Beginners, or those who have scored between 181-190 on a CASAS Reading exam, which is considered Beginning-Low level. Level 1 is appropriate as a core text for courses that adhere to most standards for Beginning-Low courses.


Future Level 2 is the third volume in the six-level series. It is designed for High Beginners, or those who have scored between 191-200 on a CASAS Reading exam, which is considered Beginning-High level. Level 2 is appropriate as a core text for courses that adhere to most standards for Beginning-High courses.


Future Level 3 is the fourth volume in the six-level series. It is designed for Low Intermediates, or those who have scored between 201-210 on a CASAS Reading exam, which is considered Intermediate-Low level. Level 3 is appropriate as a core text for courses that adhere to most standards for Intermediate-Low courses.


Future Level 4 is the fifth volume in the six-level series. It is designed for High Intermediates, or those who have scored between 211-220 on a CASAS Reading exam, which is considered Intermediate-High level. Level 4 is appropriate as a core text for courses that adhere to most standards for Intermediate-High courses.



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