Mark Twain Elementary is teeming with eager, energetic learners—all under the age of eight. For many of these kids, it is their first formal schooling experience, which can come with a lot of emotions and concerns—for kids and parents alike.
Entering this new chapter of life can be particularly challenging for non-native English speakers, but the English Language Learner/Development programs (ELL/ELD) are working hard to make early childhood education in the Silver Falls School District as seamless as possible.
“We have around 45 families who speak Spanish as their first language,” said Principal Greg Kaatz. “We work hard to foster an environment of equity and inclusion here at Mark Twain because we understand that each child enters kindergarten with unique life experiences and expectations.”
The ELL/ELD programs provide non-native English speaking parents and students with resources to help them make the most of their involvement with schools and keep students on track to read and write at grade level. These programs enhance communication between families, teachers, staff, and administrators with the help of bilingual educational assistants.
Jose Rivera serves as the educational assistant and point of contact for the ELL/ELD program at Mark Twain. He worked as a welder for 17 years before deciding to make a change in his career and return to school to earn a certificate in business technology.
“It’s been a blessing to work here and have the opportunity to make a difference in these kids’ education,” said Rivera. “Teaching them and then seeing them turn around to help others learn is my favorite part of this job. They are very bright.”
Principal Kaatz added, “Jose does great work here. The kids love him and his ongoing support to their families is crucial to our school.”