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Spanish course offered to employees

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Spanish course offered to employees

By Betsy Bailey

Saturday, December 6, 2008 9:31 PM CST

Hablas Usted Espanol? or in English "Do you speak Spanish?" It has been quite some time since I sat in a Spanish classroom, but I do still remember some basic phrases to use. However, many people have never had the opportunity to learn a foreign language. I am fortunate because I received four years of Spanish at Searcy High School under Ms. Lori Nielsen.

Three Spanish teachers at Searcy High School are offering a weekly Spanish course for employees in our district. Because the Searcy Public School District has a number of Limited English Proficient (LEP) students, it is imperative that our teachers, office staff, and nurses learn to communicate with these students.

Shannon Gann coordinated this class to provide employees with some useful phrases and vocabulary, but the class also gives employees the tools to go out and learn more Spanish on their own. Ms. Gann, along with Spanish teachers Lori Nielsen and Wendy Cunningham, are teaching on a weekly rotation. During the first week of class, "students" learned the Spanish alphabet and even sang a song to help them remember it better. Gann says, "It's fun, and I hope it is helpful to the teachers. We will keep this class going as long as there is interest.' Ms. Nielsen also offers Spanish for teachers as a professional development workshop in the summer. The Arkansas State Department of Education requires that all teachers receive at least sixty hours of professional development each year in order to keep their teaching certificate current.

I had the opportunity to visit the weekly class and listen to the lessons being taught. Wendy Cunningham happened to be teaching on the day I observed. The lesson consisted of a review of the alphabet, vowel sounds, pronunciation, and greetings. The teachers plan to teach their lessons from a book entitled "Spanish for Educators." Beverly Joyner, Searcy High School teacher and one who attended the session, described the class as "an opportunity to help me learn more and improve on the Spanish I already know."

Mrs. Joyner teaches social studies for the summer migrant program and said this will benefit her teaching greatly.

I think this is a great example of how the teachers in the Searcy Public School District are not only teaching, but they are also making an effort to learn new things in order to ensure that every student in the district is receiving the best education possible.

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