LIS Students Respond To Laudato Si – Care Of The Earth Part 2 – Recycling

Posted on June 6, 2016

A Laudato Si committee of four staff persons continued to bring Pope Francis’ message of “Care for the Earth” to our students. Tira Berglund, School Recycling Specialist from Hennepin County told classes about “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle;” the county is promoting the three Rs. Everyone was urged to practice recycling at home, using the laminated handouts as reminders of what to throw away as “TRASH” and what are “RECYCLABLES.” Realizing the presence of plastics everywhere, we can recycle plastic bags, glass, paper, metal and other plastics. It’s a learning process.


The tags on the display below reminds us of the many benefits of trees.   Trees provide a habitat for many species of animals, combat climate change, absorb CO2, reduce noise, provide wood and paper, offer shade and recharge ground water.  It is important to remember that trees provide health, spiritual, social, economic and artistic benefits.


A fabric GREEN TREE stands in the hall telling all who stop to read that trees are a valuable part of our common home. With printed words as leaves the tree wisely teaches us about the values that trees give us and our planet Earth. The Earth is called our home and our mother.

Read what one student has written as he reflected on the Earth as home and mother.

Teacher Mary Lang

The Earth is Our Common Home

by Phil, LIS Student

Our Earth is a very beautiful planet; among all planets in the universe Earth is the loveliest with mountains, oceans and all manner of environment. Earth is a home to many kinds of creatures.

Mother Earth sustains all life on it, including us humans. She provides all the food we eat and the material goods we use.

Earth produces the various fruits with colored flowers and herbs. We, the human creatures, are the wider family of all creatures of God that have their common home on planet Earth. We live in different spaces or habitats but are linked to each other in a web of relationships.

Trees are crucial to combating climate change because they absorb harmful levels of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Five Reasons to take care of our common home:

  • It is the only home we have.
  • It grounds us.
  • It provides us with food and water.
  • It gives us a place to run and play in.
  • It is a living entity.

Student Stories Published

Posted on June 6, 2016

storiespublished1When the Minnesota Literacy Council (MLC) posted its annual request for submissions to Journeys 2016 this winter, nine students at Learning In Style contributed entries for the MLC’s consideration.  Some wrote about what they had experienced when they first arrived in the United States.  Some wrote about their families.  Some shared memories of their childhood in their native country.  Some expressed their hopes for a better life in this one.

Recently, we were very pleased to learn that all of the entries submitted by our students had been accepted for inclusion in this year’s edition of Journeys, which will be available by the end of May.

Congratulations to our published students, and many thanks to the MLC for providing Minnesota immigrants with a platform for their stories!   The latest Journey: An Anthology of Adult Student Writing can be ordered from their web site at  Each of our authors will receive a copy.


LIS Is On Facebook!

Posted on May 24, 2016

LIS recognizes the importance of social media as a means of introducing ourselves to our neighbors and friends and a way to tell our story.  Please ‘Like’ us on Facebook and you will see how LIS is making a dynamic impact through education to enhance the lives of new immigrants.


Volunteer Appreciation Week is Celebrated at LIS

Posted on April 12, 2016

volunteerappreciation1Volunteers are integral to our work and each volunteer gives us needed help as they bring their own remarkable experience and willingness to pitch in.  We are fortunate to have 33 dedicated volunteers at LIS.  Each year our volunteers give more than 4,500 hours.


Volunteer Catherine Farrell (left) receives a gift of appreciation from Judy Bakula, volunteer coordinator.

LIS volunteers serve as assistants in the English classrooms, the computer lab, the math lab, the citizenship classes and in the Children’s Room.  If you are interested in volunteering at LIS or would like more information please contact Judy Bakula, volunteer coordinator, at 612-870-1815.

It’s a long road to US Citizenship

Posted on March 8, 2016

longroadLIS is very proud of those students who met the requirements and are now US Citizens. When a student from LIS becomes a US Citizen they receive a flag from the school and have their picture posted for all to see.

The process of becoming a US Citizen is not as easy as one would think. It involves following carefully outlined steps and many hours of preparation.

Those students who wish to become US Citizens take a citizen class.  When students in the class pictured above were asked why they want to become a US Citizen the first three responses were:  “I want to vote.”  “I want to live in a free country.”  “I would like to run for office some day!”

In addition to this class, the English teachers work with students so they can read and write at a level of proficiency to pass the citizenship test.

Below is a list of requirements and things to know before becoming a US Citizen.

To be eligible for citizenship one must:

  • Be at lest 18 years old,
  • Be a permanent resident of the US for at lest 5 years (If married to a US citizen three years are required.)
  • Speak, read and write basic English,
  • Pass a test on US History and Government.  To view the questions asked, click on ‘practice test‘.  This link will take you through the 100 questions individuals need to be able to answer.  Take the test.  How well did you do?
  • Have good moral character.

The process includes the following steps

  • Fill out and send the N-400 application to the US Immigration office.
  • Pay a fee of $680.00 (Application fee:  $595.00 plus a fingerprint fee:  $85.00)  Note: There is a fee waiver for low income applicants.
  • Have an interview where civics questions are asked and a basic English test is administered.  This test asks candidates to read three sentences and be able to write three sentences that are dictated.

–After all the above has taken place and successfully completed, the next and final step is to attend the Oath of Allegiance to the United States ceremony.  This ceremony is attended by individuals from many countries and is both formal and moving.

Below is a picture of our most recent LIS student being congratulated by a judge after the Oath of Allegiance ceremony.


For additional information on becoming a US Citizen click here.

Celebrating Our Diversity

Posted on February 2, 2016

celebratingdiversity1Students come every day into our building and head to class but since January 1st the halls, the ceilings, the walls, the doorways, the window ledges, everywhere you look there is something new!

There is a reason to stop and look and to appreciate before heading to class. We are celebrating our diversity, celebrating that all the students here come from some other place in the world, with languages and customs unique to that country.

celebratingdiversity2The bare tree in the entry is now decorated with snowflakes, each in a different language represented by a current student, saying “hello” and “thank you.” The hall ceilings have flags from home countries, the walls have articles of clothing contributed by students – clothing that is ablaze with color, intricate patterns, delicate stitching. Decorative fabrics are draped throughout, as well as baskets, drums, wooden calendars, and numerous other objects of art, displayed for all to see.

Cultural Day at LIS started almost 20 years ago and began as an end of the year party. The staff provided all the food and suggested that the students dress in clothing native to their home countries. There were decorations and lots food and time to celebrate. Soon, students asked to bring food that they enjoyed and everyone learned what a treat it was. The decorations originally were those already on display in the building. Now students have more of a role, an ownership in the day – all adding to the enjoyment.

Celebrating earlier, like in the middle of dreary days in winter, has been a welcome change this year. What hasn’t changed is the opportunity to experience through food, atmosphere and laughter and good conversation what a wonderful group of people are gathered within our walls each year and what a privilege it is to take the time to share.

– Agnes

LIS Students Respond to Laudato Si – Care for the Environment

Posted on January 13, 2016

careenvironment1Students at LIS are learning practical means of caring for the environment.  The inspiration for this learning activity is Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si (translated ‘Praise be to You, my Lord’).

Teachers Mary Lorentz, Mary Lang, Theresa Guenther and Donna Wermus are developing learning activities that address respect for water, land, and recycling.  This curriculum is being used in all the classes.

The first activity, Respect for Water, has been completed.  Students were taught to be aware and encouraged to take action to conserve water whenever possible.  Some suggested ways were:  Take shorter showers, turn off water while brushing teeth, use the washing machine only when there is a full load.

Everyone was given a “home” sheet to work as a family, as they find ways to save water.  Each week for a period of six weeks LIS students placed a paper water drop on a chart in the main hallway after they told their class what they did to conserve water that week.  This chart serves as a visual reminder of the importance of conserving water.

The next activity is ‘Reuse and Recycle.’  It will begin in February.

The Clothes Closet: An CSJ Ministry Extension

Posted on December 2, 2015

clothescloset3I met a volunteer recently who works in the Clothes Closet, a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph located at 2200 Nicollet Avenue.  The Clothes Closet is a place where students at LIS as well as others in the neighborhood can come to get free clothes or small household items.  It is open from 11:00 – 2:00 on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The volunteer and I began a discussion that went like this:

Teacher Connie:  I really appreciate the work you do out there, but aren’t you cold working in the garage today?

Volunteer:  Not really, I enjoy my work in the Clothes Closet.  I like meeting the students and getting to know them.   I teach them to say “please” and “thank you” when they ask for our receive things.

clothescloset2Teacher Connie:  That is wonderful!  We do that in our classes also.

Volunteer:  The Clothes Closet is a good place for your students to practice their English.

Teacher Connie:  Yes!  That is true.  It gives them a chance to use their English in a situation they will find themselves in often.  I want to bring my class down there when we are studying about clothes, shopping, etc. to practice in a “real setting.”clothescloset1

Volunteer:  One day a Hispanic student approached a Somali student and said, “Here, you need this for your baby when she/he is born.”  This would not happen in Target, but it can happen here.  The students from different cultures are interacting and using their English to speak to each other.

I realized then that the Clothes Closet is really an extension of our English classes at Learning In Style School!  Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers who work so generously in our big Clothes Closet.

–Submitted by Teacher Connie.




VOLUNTEERS are needed at the Clothes Closet! For information please contact Marie Herbert Seiter, CSJ at  The Clothes Closet is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

For volunteer opportunities at other ministries sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph go to their website,

Editor’s Note: Just the other day a man came to the Clothes Closet with a big need. He needed a pair of shoes. This man had to borrow shoes from a friend so he could walk to the Clothes Closet to get shoes for himself.

Where in the world…

Posted on November 25, 2015

whereworld1Students at LIS are from the far reaching corners of the earth. Each student has their own unique immigration story. The dots on the map above indicate the students’ country of origin.

This year, the 215 students at LIS come from 20 different countries: Benin, Brazil, China, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guatemala, Honduras, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mexico, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Tibet, Togo, and Vietnam.

whereworld2Students in Esther Wagner’s English classes are writing a story entitled, “My Life.” This exercise is giving students practice in  sentence structure and proper grammar. When the stories are finished each student will share their story with the class. In addition to developing writing and grammar skills this exercise will help students get to know each other a little better.

All with the desire to learn are welcome!

LIS is An Official Monarch Waystation

Posted on October 6, 2015

monarch3This past summer the Peace Garden at Learning In Style School became an official Monarch Waystation.

The Peace Garden contains a wide variety of nectar plants that blossom at various times throughout the summer giving the Monarchs a constant source of nectar throughout the season.

These plants include both perennials and annuals such as columbine, asters, monarda, impatiens, pansies and more. The garden also contains a water source and a fence for protection from winds. This past summer two varieties of milkweed were added to the Peace garden, and within 24 hours a Monarch was already circling looking for a place to lay eggs. It couldn’t have found a more peaceful home!

monarch2Each fall, hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies migrate from the United States and Canada to areas in Mexico and California where they wait out the winter until conditions favor a return flight in the spring. The monarch migration is truly one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, yet it is threatened by habitat loss in North America.

 Monarch Waystation Habitats

Monarch Waystations are places that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. Without milkweeds throughout their spring and summer breeding areas in North America, monarchs would not be able to produce the successive generations that culminate in the migration each fall. Similarly, without nectar from flowers these fall migratory monarch butterflies would be unable to make their long journey to overwintering grounds in Mexico. The need for host plants for larvae and energy sources for adults applies to all monarch and butterfly populations around the world.

Monarch populations have plummeted by as much as 90% and are on the cusp of being given protection by the Endangered species act. One of the primary reasons for the decline of Monarchs is the loss of habitat, particularly milkweed, which are the only plants that Monarch butterflies will lay their eggs on. Monarchs need both nectar plants and milkweed for survival.

Planting milkweed is one of the easiest ways to make difference in Monarch survival. If you are interested in learning more about how to help Monarchs and other pollinators visit, or if you are interested in having a monarch waystation.


Another LIS Student Becomes A US Citizen

Posted on September 30, 2015

uscitizenCongratulations, Hamda!  A huge goal has been accomplished and a dream come true.

On November 17, 2015 Hamda was among the 424 new U.S. citizens who took their oath at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center, MN. Along with the new freedoms come responsibility. The ceremony encouraged the new citizens to better our country by sharing their gifts of compassion, by caring for their neighbors, and by enriching us with their culture. We are proud of you, Hamda! Don’t forget your responsibility to vote!  May other dreams come true, too.

LIS Foster Grandma Receives Award

Posted on September 30, 2015 

fostergrandmaOn Saturday, September 26, 2015, Lucy Miller was honored for her service as a foster grandma.  This honor took place at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Minneapolis at a Lutheran Social Services event, Celebration for Changing Lives.  This event acknowledged their 150 years of service to the community. 

For the past three years Lucy has been a Foster Grandma at Learning In Style in the Children’s Room.  Many of our students have children and wouldn’t be able to attend classes if it wasn’t for the Children’s Room.  Children are provided educational play in a family style program that promotes cognitive, emotional, physical, social, and language development.  

Lucy is the cornerstone of this program.  Amy Cotter, coordinator of the Children’s Room describes Lucy as having a tremendous impact on the experience the children have each and every day.  She excels at making all of the children feel loved and nurtured.  Sister Lucy brings a big, loving grandmother’s heart to her work. 

LIS is proud of and congratulates Lucy for this honor!