New academy will help immigrants transition to new life

By Ian Perrotta
Review Staffwriter
Living in a foreign country is rarely easy, and not speaking the language can make it harder. Fortunately for Hamtramck, a new academy is slated to open soon that will help immigrants transition and flourish as American citizens.
Tentatively scheduled to open in April on Jos. Campau, the Sisler English Language Skills Academy (SELSA) will offer courses on US citizenship, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to people of all nationalities and some vocational training. The brainchild of Hamtramck resident Roger Sisler, the project has received support from members of the community and even Sen. Debbie Stabenow has shown interest.
It all began three years ago, when Sisler, a retired cultural anthropology professor, was asked by his neighbor to help teach the man’s wife English. Not satisfied with the available options, Sisler set himself to the task of creating a comprehensive curriculum that would allow even non-English speakers a chance to learn the language – something he feels can help improve a person’s overall well-being.
“Hopefully, the courses will not only help with putting people to work,” he says, “but with their personal happiness as well. Many times when it comes to issues related to social services, if you don’t speak the language you cannot get help.”
Sisler is no stranger to creating new schools and helping to direct them. A pioneer of the charter school movement, he was instrumental in bringing the first vocational charter school to Romulus and served on its board of directors for a number of years.
That experience, as well as a stint as the President of the Southern Junior College in Huntsville, Alabama and teaching positions at numerous other colleges, has given him the necessary knowledge to see the endeavor through.
That knowledge includes having a realistic business plan and a comprehensive curriculum. SELSA will offer four levels of ESL classes – Basic, Intermediate, Advanced and Business – and its US citizenship class should give its students everything they need to pass the US Citizenship Exam. The eight-week, 144-hour ESL courses will cost $995 and the two-week, 40-hour citizenship course will $495. Vocational courses will be added soon.
If you would like to know more about the Sisler English Language Skills Academy contact Roger Sisler at

One Response to New academy will help immigrants transition to new life

  1. Wanda T.

    April 12, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    My compliments to Mr. Sisler for his innovativeness in recognizing and attempting to tackle the underserved, struggling, deficient (at best) American- English speaking population of Hamtramck, etc. I could not agree with his program’s mission more, and the positive results to be achieved with its successful undertaking.

    Although not being a resident of Hamtramck, I frequent the neighboring city for its affordable goods and services, and am always satisfied with my experiences. Having resided within proximity of Hamtramck many years ago as a child, my parents often shopped in the city, a practice for me which continues. They especially were enanmored with the city’s vast offerings of deli and bakeries items, thus inspiring my wedding day accomodations.

    Having served as an ESL Tutor in the O.C.C. District (intermittently) for several years, I have experience assisting those in need with their English homework assignments, which is probably one of my most rewarding positions anyone could eve imagine! The majority were Middle Easterners, from within the school’s International student body. I am again available to serve in any ways necessary to make this program a success, and would be honored to be called upon to share my knowledge in any of the levels deemed appropriate.

    Please forward my information to Mr. Sisler, and tell him to feel free to contact me at his earliest convenience. I would cherish the opportunity to discuss with him how I can be of help in any/all areas concering English proficiency, and supporting wherever required. My name is Wanda. I can be contcted anytime at (313) 393-0656 or literate



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