Sr. Margaret Mary spent her initial years as a Dominican Sister of Peace teaching primary grades in Catholic schools in Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut. After receiving a Master of Arts in Religious Studies from Providence College, Providence, RI, she taught in schools and instructed in religious education classes in New York and Connecticut.
Her Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Boston College makes her more than qualified to serve the adult learners at the Springs Learner Center. She also earned a Master of Science in PastoralMental Health Counseling from Loyola University, and ministered in a women’s job placement program in Baltimore before coming to New Haven.
Sr. Barbara DeCrosta was one of the Sisters who founded the Springs Learning Center in 2002, and she has been serving as a tutor and Administrative Assistant at the Center for more than two decades.
Her many years of teaching elementary school children in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, and Connecticut prepared her to understand the complexity faced by an individual who is learning a new language.
Sr Barbara has become the heart of the Springs Learning Center thanks to her way of welcoming and encouraging all the learners who enter the Center.
Sr. Phuong Vu is a recent addition to the Springs Learning Center team. Originally from Vietnam, Sr. Phuong immigrated to the US with her parents and received her education in Chemical Engineering. She made her Temporary Vows as a Dominican Sister of Peace in 2020.
She has ministered in New Orleans as a part of the School Counseling program and is now the Administrative Assistant in charge of scheduling and database of all learners.
Sr. Phuong’s own history makes her empathetic with the adults who come to the Center to learn a new language, Her strong administrative skills, along with her welcoming spirit when registering and tracking the progress of learners, make her a vital member of the Springs Learning Center staff.
The Springs Learning Center is funded entirely by a combination of donated services, corporate and civic donations, individual gifts, and grants from foundations and other organizations, including Albertus Magnus College and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
The annual cost per learner at the Springs Learning Center is about $250, which includes books, materials, and fixed costs like rent and utilities.
We are grateful for the many individuals and organizations that partner with us to achieve our mission and goals, including our volunteers, donors, advisory council members, and other organizations with whom we collaborate.
“Education has always been one of the primary ministries of the Dominican Sisters,” explains Sr. Margaret Mary Kennedy, a Dominican Sister of Peace and Director of Springs Learning Center. She notes that her congregation of Sisters has provided educational and pastoral services in New Haven, CT, since 1901 in elementary, secondary, and college settings. “Eight years before this Center opened, we had established a highly successful literacy ministry in Columbus, OH,” she continues. “Recognizing the growing adult literacy and ESL needs here in New Haven, the Dominican Sisters opened Springs Learning Center in 2002 to continue our educational mission in the Fair Haven area.”
Today the Center is flourishing. Through the hard work and dedication of a few staff members and a group of wonderful volunteer tutors, the Center provides a holistic literacy program with one-to-one tutoring in a caring and peaceful environment, serving an average of 100 learners each year.
The volunteer tutors at the Springs Learning Center come from many local Catholic parishes and from the former St. Mary’s High School, with an average of 45 to 55 individuals volunteering each year. The Center provides necessary training and materials to tutors, who are then asked to commit to tutoring an individual learner for one hour a week for a year.
While there is a special emphasis on English as a Second Language (ESL), the Springs Learning Center provides an integrated program which includes instruction in reading and writing. The overall goal of the Center is to provide individual tutoring in basic literacy skills, to build job readiness, and to develop self-esteem for adult learners through talents and resources of the Dominican Sisters and others in the local community.
Just as important, the Center helps guide new arrivals to the United States through the steps necessary to succeed, such as obtaining a driver’s license or ID and preparing for the Citizenship test.
“Many of our adult learners have accomplished the goals for which they began taking class,” says Sr. Margaret Mary. “It’s always a blessing to celebrate with our learners when they earn promotions at work or become naturalized citizens.”
The Springs Learning Center is funded by a combination of donated services, corporate and civic donations, individual gifts, and grants from foundations and other organizations.