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Diversity shines through at Lincoln County R-III School District

Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 8:24 am

School board members teamed up with students to play game show styled trivia hosted by ESL teacher, Kelly Hufty, about the districts ESL program at the January 21 meeting of the Lincoln County R-III School District.

School board members teamed up with students to play game show styled trivia hosted by ESL teacher, Kelly Hufty, about the districts ESL program at the January 21 meeting of the Lincoln County R-III School District.

Winter weather greatly reduced the number of days students were back in school before the Lincoln County R-III School District’s Board of Education meeting.

Main Street Elementary principal, Kristi Shinn, along with English as a Second Language (ESL), teachers Kelly Hufty and Angie Robertson, entertained school board members with a fun and entertaining game about the ESL program. School board members were also recognized for their efforts and updated on the pedestrian bridge that will cross Highway 61, the work to be done at Pike Lincoln Technical Center, and the final ballot for school board members.

The highlight of the night came when English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers paired students with school board members to play a game-show styled trivia game complete with a sign signaling for those in attendance to applaud. The game highlighted the amount of diversity found in the Lincoln County R-III School District and helped everyone understand how diverse the student body truly is. For example, there are 76 English Language Learners (ELL) students throughout the district that speak nine languages. Those languages include: Amharic, Tagalog, Romanian, both Latin American Spanish and Spanish from Spain, Albanian, Russian, Chinese, Punjabi Hindu and of course English. There are three ESL teachers district wide Kelly Hufty, Angie Robertson and Tiffany Nixon that work to meet the needs of the 76 ELL students. Another important thing to know is that many students are able to test out of the ESL program and then become bi-lingual students in the district.

Perhaps the most diverse building is Main Street Elementary (MSE), which is home to 53 of the 76 ELL students and six of the nine languages spoken in the district. Students at MSE are given a regular education teacher and work with ESL Kelly Hufty. This process allows students to acclimate to their new environment. Students are tested on entry of the school and often their success in learning English is based on their literacy of their own language. “It is important to remember everyone has their own story and we have to remain cognitive of that,” said MSE Principal Kristi Shinn. ESL students at MSE are able to share their culture with students around Christmas when they host Holidays Around the World, which focuses on cultures around the world and lets students and families hear and see first hand accounts of what it is like to live outside the US. They also host a family night for ELL families that gives them the ability to see that they aren’t the only ones adjusting to their new life in Lincoln County. St. Charles Community College has also been to the school to show parents of ELL students their options in learning English as a second language. These programs have helped families feel like a real part of their community and allowed students at MSE the unique ability of learning the world through first hand accounts.

Nelleke Barajas was also recognized at the board meeting for all the work she does for the school in helping with ELL families. On top of being a bus driver for the district she has worked with ELL families for the past three years to help them adapt and learn their new culture. She has worked with the Transportation Director, Mike Francisco, in order to ensure students are able to safely get to and from school and Nelleke works, often on her own time, with families to help them do things we often take for granted such as scheduling doctor appointments, immunizations, grocery shopping and even calling families early in the morning to let them know school has been cancelled. Nelleke’s hard work has created a service and community for families and students to be successful and the ESL teachers in the district recognized and thanked her for all of her work with flowers but most importantly with kind and encouraging words of their appreciation.

School board members were also recognized for their efforts. This recognition came just a week before Missouri School Board Recognition Week, which ran from January 26 – February 1. January 21 also marked the last day for school board filing and candidates who have filed for the three available seats are as follows Greg Strawhun, Susan Eales, Dan Reed and Dale McDonald.

Sidewalks completed last summer that run along Monroe St. and Old Cap-Au-Gris up to Troy Buchanan High School have already made it safer for high school students that walk to the school. The final part of the project is a footbridge that will cross US Highway 61 keeping students out of the path of automobiles crossing the overpass to the school. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has teamed up with the Lincoln County R-III School District and the City of Troy to ensure students walking to school are safer. Superintendent, Mark Penny discussed the options he was shown by MoDOT, which included a 10-foot walking bridge that will allow adequate room for students traveling to and from school. No decisions have been made for the final plan but as of now the project is on track to be completed by the start of the 2014-2015 school year.

School board members took a trip to Pike Lincoln Technical College to look at plans for the new construction, which will replace the main building of the school that was lost in 2011. Board members seemed to enjoy their trip and were especially excited to see plans included the ability to retrofit the building as needed. All agreed that it was important for the school to be able to change to fit the needs of students so as to be able to prepare them for the ever-changing job market.

The next meeting of the Lincoln County R-III school district will be February 18 at the district central office at 6 p.m.