GENEVA, N.Y. (WROC) — Some children face new obstacles and challenges when they immigrate to the United States. It can be challenging learning the customs of a new country. At times, bilingual teachers in schools play a major role. Many schools have them and teach their classes half in Spanish and the other half in English acclimate to their environment.
Jesús García and Adriana Mulero-Claudio are excited for this school year.
“I’ll be teaching 5th grade as part of the dual-language program,” said García.
“I am the dual-language 3rd-grade teacher,” said Mulero-Claudio.
A majority of their students at North street Elementary school in Geneva are learning English as a second language.
“When you learn your native language or mother tongue well, it’s easier to learn a second language or foreign language,” said García.
Right now teachers like them are so crucial. Nationally nearly five million of all public school students are learning English as a second language, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. School districts like Geneva, are recruiting bilingual teachers from abroad to meet the needs of their spanish speaking students.
“That high population of Hispanic students, also like from Mexico and other countries, was certainly important for me. I knew I wanted to work at a public school,” said Mulero-Claudio.
Adriana of Caguas, Puerto Rico says she enjoyed being free as a child in the rural outdoors of her hometown. But she didn’t like school at first. It was until a conversation with her grandmother that made her realize the opportunities a person can have with an education.
“That had a very big impact on me because, I understood for the first time, that education matters. that it’s something not granted to everyone. I needed to make an effort,” said Mulero-Claudio.
Adriana says her 10th grade teacher also influenced her. It resulted in her love of reading and writing. A past she says can help her navigate her students today.
“I needed someone else to tell me, you are good at this and to explain to me why I am good at it. So that’s another reference for me to understand what is the importance of a teacher,” said Mulero-Claudio.
Jesus of Andalucia, Spain is teaching in the Finger Lakes Region for the first time. He’s hoping his experience teaching Spanish in Germany will now help his new students here.
“I’ll be teaching Spanish, social studies, and guided math everything in Spanish,” said García.
“Yo estoy convencido de aprender una lengua extranjera, puede darte más oportunidades en el futuro”, dijo García.
Jesús says he’s convinced learning a foreign language can give you more opportunities in the future. Both agree, being bilingual not only keeps students connected to their roots but enriches the community.
Spanish speaking students learning English make up 15% of the entire student population in the Geneva City Schools District.