Coordinator bridges the language gap
When students who don't speak English and struggle to connect with academics and their school community, that's the cue that sets Jessica Miner into action.
Miner has stepped into the role of English Language Learner program coordinator, a new position in the Estacada School District. She switched to the new job in late January.
"The EL program has already been established, and the new piece is having somebody specifically in this role to make sure all of the pieces are being completed and taken care of," she said. "(I'll be a) support for the community, the district and the teachers."
In her new role, Miner hopes to foster a sense of community among school district families who do not speak English as their primary language.
"We're really trying to build those connections with the community," she said.
Soon, the district will host an "ELL Night" where families will have dinner, art and reading activities and the opportunity to connect with school principals and leaders.
The event is from 5:30-7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, at the River Mill Elementary School Cafeteria.
To further connect with the community, Miner also provides translation services to those who need them.
"I think parents are starting to use that more as they learn that there's somebody that they can readily go to without having to wait," she said.
Miner noted that, moving forward, the district's program for English learners will focus on integrating additional support for students in their classrooms.
Across the district, there are 115 students enrolled in the English learners program.
"Historically, they've had different kinds of models in the different schools. Elementary has been doing a pull out model, and at the middle and high school students have gone to their (English Language Development) class as a class period," Miner said. "So now we're really looking at how we can really support students in their content classrooms and promote
that inclusivity for our students."
Miner said integrating EL support into student's content classrooms will be beneficial in the months and years ahead.
"Looking at that model for inclusivity, when we get that going, that's going to provide a lot of support for all students," she said.
Miner noted that the number of students enrolled in the English Learners program seems to be growing.
"That's exciting that the population is growing, and we're looking at data and how we're going to be able to support those students going forward," she said.