FARMER'S KORNER - With the start of a new class at Summit High School, Maria Carrión-Kozak is hoping to knock down obstacles some native Spanish speakers face while they chase higher education.
The pilot class, Heritage Spanish Speakers level one, is based off research showing that higher proficiency in one's native language makes it easier to acquire a second.And recently, Summit School District Board of Education voiced its full support of starting the class this fall."This is going to be the Spanish speakers' language arts," said Carrión-Kozak, Spanish teacher at SHS where 11.5 percent of the population are English Language Acquisition students.
The class is specifically designed for students who grew up in a home where Spanish is spoken, but they may not necessarily know how to read or write the language well.It will include a cultural aspect, reading and writing, presentation and essay skills and guest speakers.
"These kids need role models," said Carrión-Kozak
, who personally understands some of the struggles the students face.
This doesn't work for a couple reasons, Carrión-Kozak
was working on her
master's degree between 2002 and 2004 at the University of Northern Colorado
began looking into this issue and developing curriculum. In 2006, Carrión-Kozak came to Summit School District, and during her first school year here, talked to colleagues about the idea for the class.She
then visited two schools with this type of class in Denver and Fort Collins.What she
heard from those teachers is, the students self-esteem increased, attendance records increased and the students were able to make a better connection with English and other subjects.
The feedback Marchesano and Carrión-Kozak
heard at that meeting from board members was a desire to take the class to all the schools in Summit
"The district understands that by educating all the students, we are building a better community," Carrión-Kozak
said.Also, the goal is for students is to be biliterate, bilingual and bicultural, she
"If it all goes well and we see the improvement others school have seen, we would like to see it go Pre-K through 12," said Carrión-Kozak
who will be tracking the students' progress.
The plan is to the start the first level of the class in the coming year and then the following year have a level two class at SHS
and break the first level into three parts at Summit Middle School
Right now, school officials are in the process of assessing who of the 39 students signed up for the class next year would benefit most.And they've had to be a bit creative with the budget in order to make it happen, so expansion in the future may pose some challenges.
"I really strongly believe it (the class) will make a huge difference," Carrión-Kozak
Anyone interested in donating items, such as Spanish-Spanish dictionaries or reading materials, to help with the Heritage Spanish Speakers class, or coming in as a guest speaker, should contact Maria Carrión-Kozak
e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org or number 547-9311, ext. 1309.