USD 410 servicing new diversity

As needs of students change, so does a school district?s strategy to meet them.

Growth in the number of Spanish-speaking families and students in USD 410 led the board of education in fall to hire its first paraprofessional assigned specifically to assist with translation services.

Since the end of September, Gita Noble has been working halftime as an English for Speakers of Other Languages aide at Hillsboro Elemen?tary School.

She is working under the direction of Ellynne Wiebe, the full-time Title I certified teacher at HES. Wiebe is herself certified as an ESOL teacher in Spanish, but her other duties have not allowed her to invest time in providing services to the 13 Spanish-speaking students in the building and their families, according to Steve Noble, superintendent.

He said Wiebe and Evan Yoder, HES principal, made the request for additional help at the start of the current school year.

?Ellynne typed up a pretty compelling argument why we needed the position,? Steve Noble said, adding that the position is paid for through grant funding, which will be reviewed each year.

Gita Noble took Spanish classes for four years while a high school student in Wichita, then minored in Spanish and math while completing her degree in elementary education at the University of Kansas.

She has been in K-12 education for 23 years, 16 as a certified classroom teacher and seven as assistant principal and dean of students.

?Basically, there was a need for someone with a Spanish-speaking background to come in and help the many Spanish-speaking students we have,? she said of her interest in the position.

?If there was truly a need, I wanted to fill the need.?

Noble said she spends a significant part of her time with one particular fifth-grade student who speaks English but occasionally needs some help to fully understand lessons and assignments.

?His English-speaking skills are fine, but it?s one thing to know how to speak English, and another thing to study and learn English,? she said.

?I?m helping him in particular to get through any classes that he may need extra help with comprehension. I also work with him on his listening skills, his speaking skills and his comprehension skills.?

Another key service Noble performs is translating informational notes and newsletters the school sends home to parents of all students. In some cases, parents speak Spanish only.

For example, Noble translated information sent to parents earlier this school year regarding the H1N1 virus.

?Just to make sure those families weren?t misunderstanding the information, because it was pretty important,? she said.

Noble said she is pleased with the way the traditional English-speaking students have accepted their Spanish-background classmates?as well as her involvement with them in the classroom.

?They love it and they try to pick up on the words that I say,? Noble said. ?I?m not an expert by any means; my Spanish is very choppy at best. But I can get by.

?I think they?ve embraced the Spanish-speaking families well,? she added. ?They treat them just like anybody else.?

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