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Posted: 1/22/2006 3:09:55 PM EDT
I wonder why there is such a demand for bi-lingual teachers

JISD heads to Mexico to recruit bilingual teachers
April Barbe
January 21, 2006
www.jacksonvilleprogress.com/homepage/local_story_021155148.html?keyword=leadpicturestory
Speaking Spanish has become an indispensable attribute, according to Marianela Bowen, the Jacksonville Independent School District bilingual education director.

But the effects of a nation-wide shortage of bilingual teachers are being felt behind the pine curtain, at JISD.

“Because of the area that we’re in and the number of bilingual students, we need more bilingual teachers in the classroom,” Bowen said.

It is this shortage that led Bowen and six representatives from the four Jacksonville elementary campuses to Monterrey, Mexico, recently.

Bowen, Craig Weaver, Sandra Stuart, Theresa Pollard, Robert Ramirez, Laurie Greathouse and Tracy Wallace left for Monterrey on Jan. 12 and returned Jan. 15 with good news.

“We recruited seven teachers who will be coming to Jacksonville ISD in the fall,” Bowen said.

Two of the teachers will be at Joe Wright Elementary; two at Westside Elementary; two at Fred Douglas Elementary; and one will teach at Eastside Elementary.

Recruitment efforts were made possible by Region 4, and representatives with Region 4 will take care of all necessary paperwork, Bowen said. Dr. Rene Ruiz coordinates the program, she said.

Bowen said the trip was funded through the Texas Education Agency, and the new recruits will not be additional faculty, but will replace out-going instructors, whether the out-going instructor teaches science, math or another subject in a different grade level. The faculty will be repositioned to incorporate the bilingual teacher.

The district currently has seven bilingual teachers and six teachers who are English as a Second Language (ESL) certified, Bowen said.

With almost 1,000 bilingual students in the district this year, up from 873 during the 2004-05 year, Bowen said the district was in desperate need of bilingual teachers.

“They are getting the same incentives as our other bilingual teachers, and that includes a pay stipend of $1,500 and an additional $1,000, annually, for those with an ESL certification,” Bowen said.

Bowen said other than gathering information about housing possibilities, financial institutions and utility companies, the new recruits are getting the same treatment as other bilingual recruits.

The bilingual teachers are utilized in prekindergarten through sixth grade, with continuing ESL classes in higher grades.

“We feel like the best way to build a foundation with the students is to start early,” Bowen said. “Otherwise, you have gaps in their learning when they get into the upper grades. To learn the language you must first understand it.”

Third through 10th grade students can also enroll into the New Immigrant Classroom, which is a one-year program to help students learn the basics of the English language. According to Bowen, the class includes mostly older students.

Most recently, two students from Taiwan and two students from Cambodia joined the program, she said.

Once a district has 20 students from the same nationality, they can recruit teachers within that nationality, Bowen said.
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