School is challenging enough for most students. Imagine trying to make the grade if nobody in your home spoke English.
More than 400 students in the Clinton Public School District are in the English Language Learner program. With Continental Tire rolling into town, that number will only grow, but the District is ready.
Michaela Charnaza spends her days teaching students, who speak a variety of languages at home, to become proficient in English.
Michaela explains, “We know that intellectually that they are able to do the work all of our other speakers do.”
The EL program is all about bridging the gap. Instructors meet with students one hour a day, five days a week
Michaela says, “So we work on those speaking and listening skills, along with their literary skills so that they can kind of catch up and perform on the same levels as our students whose home language is English.”
Each Spring students have a chance to test out of the program, but that test is not easy.
Michaela says, “It’s very in depth, but it also insures that they really are ready to function independently in their classroom.”
Michaela and a fellow teacher have also created a newsletter that English learning students can take home to their parents.
Michaela concludes, “We want to be as inclusive and accepting and culturally sensitive as we can, because the more we do that, the more the families are going to engage and be participating in school, and that just really motivates the students to work harder.”
Now, there is even a Cultural Diversity Club at Clinton High, where students have been known to share traditional recipes.
District wide, students in Clinton come from homes where 22 different languages are spoken.