An introduction to English

For several years, Melissa Everly has been teaching people from 18 to 80 years old through Wood County Schools.

Some of her students do not take tests for a grade. Their reward is learning to speak, read and write English.

One of Everly’s jobs in the Adult Basic Education program is to help foreign-born residents of Wood County navigate the English language. In her English as a Second Language class, she has worked with people from Lebanon, India, Vietnam, Syria, Peru, Chile, Mexico, Korea, China, Panama, Brazil, France, Austria, Poland, Iran, Pakistan and other countries.

The free class that just ended had five students – two from Brazil, one from Russia, one from the Ukraine and one from Ethiopia. They worked on their speaking, listening, writing and communications skills, Everly told me.

Some of her ESL classes have had as many as 12 students. The program at Lakeview Center follows the Wood County Schools schedule and meets on Mondays through Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Many of her foreign-born students have college degrees in their native countries.

“They are highly motivated students,” Everly said. “They are willing to learn.” It is a matter of survival for some, she said.

Most are women. Some have married U.S. servicemen or met an American over the Internet.

Everly enjoys her job.

“They (students) have taught me about other cultures and why they have come to the United States,” she said.

English is the only language Everly knows. “I am not a translator. I teach English,” she said.

The ESL student sets a goal of attending the program for a week, month or years, as long as it takes to feel comfortable with the English language.

She has taught some people who could not speak any English. Others have some knowledge of English. Class members form friendships.

Leandra Michael of Williamstown, a native of Brazil who took the class this year, said Everly is a wonderful teacher – patient and friendly.


“It was a lovely evening at a spectacular venue” is how Joyce Mather, executive director of the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley, described a reception last Saturday evening at the Vienna home of Harry and Kathe Deitzler. The Deitzlers hosted a “thank you” reception for United Way Alliance leadership givers, members of the Pacesetters Club who donate $500 or more annually. The event was held at no cost to the United Way Alliance office or donors, because of the Deitzlers’ generosity, Mather said. The Third Street Deli catered the reception, while Kathe prepared salads and her sister Mona Gandee made the desserts. Last year’s reception on June 29 at Mary Riccobene’s home on the 300-acre McDonough estate was interrupted by the derecho. The powerful storm blew over trees, sent chairs and tables flying and knocked out the electricity on the Vienna estate, but the small United Way party continued by candlelight, Mather said. A tree crashed down on Riccobene’s front porch moments after reception-goers had entered the home. A lawn chair cushion and red napkin from the June 2012 party were recently found “two hills away” from Riccobene’s home.


Add the farmers market at Grand Central Mall to the list of outdoor venues selling vegetables, fruits and honey this summer. Petia Johnson of Mineral Wells opened the farmers market at the mall last Friday in the parking lot in front of Toys “R” Us and adjacent to Steak ‘n Shake. Johnson, who owns Pepi’s Cafe/Seattle Coffee in Grand Central Mall, said she enjoyed working outdoors at another area market. She noticed malls in Ohio and West Virginia had outdoor farmers markets, giving her the idea to open one in Vienna. She is renting the space to vendors (and is looking for local vendors), who are selling vegetables, fruits and honey, with operating hours of 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Johnson doesn’t see her market being in competition with others in downtown Parkersburg, Athens and Marietta. “It gives customers more choices to purchase fresh produce,” she said.

Contact Paul LaPann at