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Empowerment through language: Teachers expand Spanish course for educators

Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 8:40 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - School data show there are 56 languages spoken in Roanoke City Public Schools (RCPS).

According to the school district, the highest demographic of non-English speakers speaks Spanish.

Teachers such as Solange Salvo help translate a lot between Spanish-speaking families and educators. She also helped start a class for Roanoke city facility and staff to empower them to translate too.

“It’s really the best way, I think, to not only help our community of teachers and educators grow personally, but it directly helps the families and the students that are involved, and so we can kind of help bridge that gap. Invite people into, you know, their education of their child,” said elementary teacher Salvo.

She helps teach the growing virtual Spanish course for educators.

“We’ve had school psychologists, counselors, teachers, art teachers, music teachers-- anybody who interacts with students is welcome to it that works for Roanoke City Public Schools,” said Salvo.

It’s all a part of the schools’ continued effort to help educators grow, but also better connect with the population of Spanish speakers in Roanoke.

“These educators and everybody in the education field is working so hard to meet all of these students and family’s needs, and their time is really spoken for in a lot of ways--- and so to be able to give it to them virtually has been-- and to be able to offer it myself virtually while my children are at home has been really just so beneficial,” said Salvo.

There are five courses, each about an hour. During the classes, they discuss a number of topics.

“So it’s kind of a quick overview and it is the basics, you know, the gender of nouns, common vocabulary that you can use,” said Salvo.

Laura Gomez is one of the newest instructors this year.

“It makes me feel really good because, as an educator, you know, that you want to help. You want to educate people, so it improves their quality of life--- and I think by doing this, that makes me happy, whether it’s children or adults--- you know, giving them something that’s going to improve their quality of life,” said elementary Spanish teacher Laura Gomez.

RCPS says they’re very fortunate to have a significant-sized multilingual facility and staff.

“Roanoke city, we continue to get more and more students from other countries, and they are a vital part of our system,” said Gomez.

School leaders say these Spanish courses, aren’t the only classes available; there’s an entire department dedicated to helping Roanoke’s educators continue to grow.

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