Navigating the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been difficult enough for people in the United States who can speak the English language. Imagine how difficult it is for people from different countries who do not speak English—especially those who are school-aged children.
The Hammonton School District and other associated entities have been reaching out to English Language Learners (ELL), also known as English as a Second Language (ESL) students during this difficult time, school officials said.
Thomas Fischer, the District Supervisor of ELL/Bilingual and World Language, explained some of the efforts that have been taken by the district.
“For families of English Language Learners, the first line of communication is typically their children’s bilingual or ESL teacher, many of whom are proficient in both Spanish and English. For monolingual English-speaking teachers, several district translators/interpreters are available to facilitate both oral and written communication. The district also employs a significant number of bilingual—Spanish/English—instructional aides to assist with instruction in bilingual/ESL classrooms as well as with online instruction and parent communication,” Fischer said.
You can read Gazette Staff Writer Joseph F. Berenato’s in-depth article regarding English Language Learners and the people from within and outside of the school district who are working to help them on the front page of this week’s Gazette.
In the article, you’ll meet people in Hammonton like Puerto Rican Civic Association (PRCA) Public Relations Representative Myrna Santiago, the founder of the 501(c)(3) charitable organization HELP. She serves on the Schoolwide Planning Team and has been helping the district find families who were previously unaware but nevertheless in need of the free meals the district provides. You’ll also meet Ivette Guillermo-McGahee, from Allies in Caring and the Hammonton Health Coalition, who is helping Spanish-speaking families bridge the technology gap in many ways, including connecting them with Stockton University, which has Kramer Hall in Hammonton.
The effort to connect people who are English Language Learners with the community at large is an outstanding one. It should be supported in every way possible so its good work can continue to help local residents in need of its services.