Local school districts in need of bilingual teachers
YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- Experts say local school districts are in dire need of teachers who are bilingual.
With a heavy Hispanic population in the Yakima Valley, they say kids are entering kindergarten struggling to speak English.
"A lot of the kids that we have that are learning English as another language, are kids that are actually born here, so they're U.S. citizens, but we have that need in our valley, and we don’t have nearly enough teachers who are trained and qualified to work with those kids" said Heritage University Associate Professor Joanie Monroy.
Yesica Esquivel is an English language teacher in the Zillah School District. She says in order to accommodate the growing need for teachers like her, those getting their teaching degrees need to know that getting certified as a bilingual teacher is an option.
But, Monroy says they’re one step ahead. With nearly one-third of the kids in the Wapato and Sunnyside school districts being classified as English language learners, she says the university has recognized the urgent need for bilingual teachers, so now people getting their degrees in education walk away prepared to teach, locally.
"Our undergrads, most of them come out with both – ELL or bilingual. So, we’re really trying to send teachers out that we don’t have to go back and catch them up," said Monroy.
In the Zillah School District, Esquivel says she’s in charge of teaching over 100 kids in the district English, and there’s only one other English language teacher besides her.
She says her personal experience has inspired her to help kids struggling to learn English so they can have the opportunities she says she’s had.
"I am an English learner myself, and because I have that background and I went to school as an English learner, it really makes me sensitive, and I want to be able to help those students that are going through the same experience, as I did," said Esquivel.