Adriana Sanchez is Dell City ISD's New ESL Aide
Dell City ISD has a new position, one that serves a student population that needs extra support. Beginning after the Thanksgiving holiday break, Adriana Sanchez became the district's ESL instructional aide.
At least 15 of the Dell City School's 74 students are English-language learners. Sanchez is working with ESL students grades six through 12, in the core subject areas of English, science, math and social studies. These students are immersed in English-language instruction, and absorb language that way, but Principal Carlos Contreras said that Sanchez can “expedite that learning process,” and help ensure these students have academic success.
“This is a critical position – there's a high need there,” Contreras said. “There's a point in time when kids really don't understand what's going on in the classroom, because of the language barrier.”
In multiple improvement plans at the district in recent years, shortfalls among ESL students have been identified as one of the “root causes” for the school's failure to meet state standards. Contreras said it was necessary to address that gap directly, to support student achievement for the school as a whole.
Berenice Mora, the school's early-education teacher, also provides ESL assistance. She'll continue working with elementary school students, while Sanchez works with the secondary students.
Sanchez has worked at the district since 2014, and this year she had been school secretary. Contreras said he'd come to rely on her in the main office.
“She's made my job so much easier,” he said, “but she's needed so much more for the kids.”
Sanchez, who picked up Spanish mostly from her grandparents and great-grandparents, sits with ESL students in the classrooms, observes them – and keeps an eye out for signs students aren't grasping the lesson. She said some students are hesitant to ask questions or get a teacher's attention when they're not fully understanding a lesson. It's her job to insure they get that extra help.
“I make sure they get settled into class and that they're paying attention to the lesson,” Sanchez said. “Then, when the assignment comes, I help them break it down in a way they can understand. Sometimes I have to maybe explain it in Spanish, and then say it again in English, so they can understand the two.”
Sanchez said the new job is a challenge and a “learning experience,” and that she'll be “relying a lot on other people for information, to guide me in the right direction as I figure it out.”
“I tell the kids, 'I guess we're learning together,'” Sanchez said. “When you're a little bit uncomfortable and you're out of your box, that's how you grow and that's how you learn.”
But Sanchez said that students are responding well – and that, even in her first week, she already has a good chemistry in the classroom with a number of students.
“I feel like there are a couple kids that I'm really able to help in class,” she said, “and that always makes me feel good.”