Tolton Center

A Program of De La Salle Institute

Tolton Center works to strengthen families in Chicago's Little Village community by providing parents and children with a strong educational foundation.

Tolton Center Staff

Please reach out to learn more or to get involved.

Megan Pawlak Bodett


Adult ESL Classes

  • While children are in school, parents participate in virtual ESL classes.
  • Instructors post assignments to Google Classroom at the start of each week for students to complete when they have time.
  • Students participate in a weekly class session over zoom that include no more than 5 people to encourage conversation and maximize learning.
  • Virtual classes allow students to participate when they would not be able to otherwise.
  • In Fiscal Year 2022, more students than ever before reported that participation in Tolton’s classes led to real income opportunities as they were promoted and landed new jobs with better pay and benefits.

Family Literacy Services

  • The project also supports parents in their role as their children’s primary teachers.
  • Tolton Center fosters the use of public library resources, creates fun educational activities for families to complete together and hosts workshops on topics of interest.
  • Some of our students’ favorite activities are the annual book club, going on educational field trips together and learning from local service agencies about topics that help families overcome barriers to success.


Conversation Partners

  • Tolton is always looking for conversation partners!
  • Conversation partners are paired with an adult ESL student for weekly 30 minute one-on-one tutoring sessions.
  • Weekly 30 minute sessions really increase the learner’s ability to comprehend and speak in English!
  • Having a safe space for students to practice also helps students feel more confident to communicate in their daily lives.

A few details:

  • Conversation partners meet with their assigned student virtually on Zoom.
  • The conversation partner does not need to prepare anything in advance.
  • Students are eager to converse so the thirty minutes will go by quickly.
  • The student’s teacher will also update a shared google doc with the topics being addressed in class each week.
  • Conversation partners and their assigned student will schedule a consistent time to meet each week, depending on availability.

Workshop Leader

  • Tolton students are always eager to learn from experts!
  • General topics of interest include finances, health and nutrition, immigration, parenting, mental health and more.
  • Please contact the director if you are interested in exploring the option of leading a workshop.