Galax City Public Schools offers new resources to help English Learners find success

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 8:19 PM EDT
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GALAX, Va. (WDBJ) - Students heading back to the classroom as English learners will have more resources this year in Galax City Public Schools.

Teachers like Elizabeth Stringer-Nunley are excited to have students by their side instead of over a computer screen.

“It’s much more fun to teach to people than it is to screens,” she said.

The in-person lessons also help keep students like Keirin Turcios better engaged.

The 10th grader is part of the district’s English Learners program.

She came to the United States from Honduras three years ago.

She said last year was hard having in-person and virtual classes, because it was confusing. She thinks it’s going to be better this year because they will be able to go to class in person, learn more and not be as confused.

Students in the program did slide during the pandemic because of those challenges, Stringer-Nunley said.

“Sometimes it is hard enough to keep them engaged when they are sitting in front of you, much less when you don’t have control of their environment at home, and it is a button click away from turning me off,” she said.

Stringer-Nunley plans to take the resources and lessons learned last year and use them to help get students back on track.

That means providing after-hours help in person and online.

“Sometimes students need to go home to take care of siblings, go to work, or cook meals for the family. So we will also be offering some virtual evening office hours that students can kind of just pop on, we will be there,” Stringer-Nunley said.

The goal is to meet students where they are, and help teens like Turcios accomplish all their goals for the new year.

30% of the Galax City students are Hispanic and 18% are enrolled in the English Learners program.

The pandemic also taught program coordinators that parents are instrumental in their students’ success in the classroom. So, this year, the district plans to launch a mentor program that will allow families that are new to the school district to meet and speak with other parents of English Learner students.

Stringer-Nunley said the goal is to have families share their experiences and better understand the expectations, classes and testing that will shape their students’ education.

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