New life as workforce center breathed into old East Side school

Former SAISD campus turned into workforce center

SAN ANTONIO – An old elementary school is getting new life as a means to educating the East Side workforce.           

Organizers at the ribbon cutting for the Eastside Education and Training Center said they hope free schooling will bring a fresh start to both the students and the East Side of town.

With classrooms at the old Pfeiffer Elementary School now filled with medical props and laptops. Officials hope in the first year 300 students will fill four graduating classes at the center located at 4551 Dietrich Road. The goal is to help 700 residents every year in attaining better employment.

On Nov. 14 office assistance classes start, then information technology courses begin by the end of the month.

There will be free childcare, ESL and GED classes.

The program is free for students who qualify. Funding was provided by a $1.5 million federal grant for the building and millions more in federal and state money for the Alamo Colleges instructors.

Organizers said this can be life-changing in an area of town where unemployment is 7 percent higher when compared to rest of San Antonio.

Thirty-two percent of East Side residents live below the poverty line.

"This program right here in the heart of this community makes it accessible and approachable," said Mayor Ivy Taylor.

Built in the 1960s, the last time the San Antonio Independent School District used the elementary was in 2014.

Students Kendra Franklin and Tamika Young were present at the ribbon cutting. The ladies will graduate in February as certified nursing assistants from a similar program called the Health Profession Opportunity Grant, also through Alamo Colleges.

They also agree that an opportunity like this for people can be life-changing.

“My kids look at me so different. I'm not at, at some low paying job anymore,” Young said. “They see somebody (and say) ‘Oh, like my mom can do it, and I know I can do it.’”

"For anybody that's thinking about doing this, this is your chance. You're not losing anything,” Franklin said. “You're helping yourself, and it will motivate you to keep going."

The Eastside Education & Training Center is open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. People interested in additional information can call 210-486-5555 or email ucenter@alamo.edu for more information on enrollment.