The traditional school year may be on recess but our summer programming is just beginning and there is an amazing amount of learning that will occur throughout Worthington over the next five weeks. In our surveys, focus groups, and daily conversations with families of Worthington English Learners, one of the most consistently expressed desires from parents is the chance to learn English. In the 2018-19 school year, over 640 students received support learning English in Worthington classrooms but their parents often do not have access to the same opportunity. This creates a challenging home dynamic where the child becomes more English proficient than the parent, and in some cases, the parent becomes reliant on the child to interpret when navigating throughout the community.
After several months of exploration and conversation with potential community partners, the Worthington EL program was able to utilize Federal Title III dollars to launch our first adult English class. (A small scale class was offered in the past through the generous voluntary efforts of a now-retired EL teacher, but sustainability was limited). The current class is offered in partnership with US Together, a local community refugee resettlement and immigrant support agency, who connected us with an English teacher with experience instructing adults.
Further, because the Worthington elementary schools that are most accessible to neighborhoods where many interested families live are not accessible in the summer (construction, district programming, etc), we engaged another community organization that expressed a desire to support students in Worthington. The Chapel at Worthington Woods (Salvation Army) is a beautiful site with a full gymnasium, small library, and various classroom spaces, and within walking distance of Slate Hill and surrounding residences. The Salvation Army leadership team understands that there will be no religious component to our English class, but is glad to expose families to other supports that they extend to the community including free music classes, food distribution, and more.
The adult English class is accompanied by activities for children of parent participants, led by two Worthington Bilingual Assistants who speak Spanish and Portuguese; they are paid from the Title III budget mentioned earlier. We also invited one of our favorite community partners, the Worthington Libraries, to join us on specific weeks, and they have provided interactive materials for our weekly use with children.
Last night, I was personally thrilled when the first 3 adults walked from their apartments and arrived 30 minutes before the class started. We had 12 adults attend, filling the small classroom we reserved, while their 13 children played joyfully in the gym then listened closely while Gabrielle from the Worthington Libraries read a story. Parents of children from Worthington Hills, Slate Hill, TWHS, and Bluffsview were tremendously appreciative.
Classes will be offered for 6 consecutive weeks this summer as a pilot to determine interest and explore logistics. If successful, it is our hope to offer a more extended series in the fall.
-Trent Bowers, Superintendent