District starts new ESL program

District+starts+new+ESL+program

Sherlyn Rodriguez

Helping parents help their children is the focus of a new adult ESL class started by several educators in the district. This program was started to help parents and others in the community learn how to speak, read, and write English.

“Non-English speaking parents want to help their children in school, but because of the language barrier, they sometimes don’t know how,” English teacher Tanya Martin said. “I just want to make sure that these parents are able to help their child so that they could be successful in the future.”

The program was started by the Buffalo ISD assistant superintendent, Dr. Georgeanna Adams-Molina. Alongside her and Martin, Spanish teacher Maria Salazar, aide Yanette Davila and members of the Spanish Club are helping out in the program. In addition to the adult lessons, the program offers babysitting, and the children have fun lessons, as well.

“Initially, the idea came from the need to increase parent involvement in our schools for our English Learning students,” Adams-Molina said. “According to multiple studies, parent involvement is one of the most statistically significant strategies to increase student achievement. Since 47% of the students enrolled in Buffalo ISD are Hispanic, there was no doubt that a program to help our non-English speaking parents would increase their level of involvement in their child’s academic career.”

The program’s first class was on September 12. Students and teachers meet on Tuesday and Thursday nights; 53 adults are enrolled.

“I’m surprised with the number of people that come to this program,” Martin said. “It looks like they really want to make an effort to learn English.”

In addition to the adults, 42 children are enrolled; they work on their language skills, both English and Spanish, and learn about their culture as well.

“The idea became greater than its initial inception,” Adams-Molina said. “There’s an awareness that our community is changing, becoming more and more diverse, and that became the driving force.”