Bay District schools see an influx of English learners

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) — Students in Bay District schools enrolled in the English for Speakers of Other Languages ​​or ESOL program range from kindergarten through high school.

According to ESOL district officials, the program currently has 1,250 students. For reference, in 2019 there were 859 students in the program, so it is growing significantly as the county continues to grow in population.

The overall goal of the program is to provide equal educational opportunities for all students and to help students earn a high school diploma, according to ESOL Supportive Care Manager Patty Engle.

“Because after all, we are an educational entity and business, so our goal is to educate them,” Engle said.

The goal of educating students begins in the classroom. Teachers are given tools to do this through ESOL Resource Teachers.

“We have so many English learners in the classroom that they need to know how best to support them. So our job is to take some of that pressure off teachers and show them the best ways to provide understandable instruction,” said BDS ESOL Resource Teacher Alison Moreira.

Engle said the program is not only operational at school, but also offers home visits when needed.

“We do check what you need, do you need food, do you need clothes, do you need anything that we can help you with,” Engle said.

In addition to helping students, BDS has opened a multilingual resource center to help parents who do not speak English or speak limited English. Throughout the day, ESOL officials answer calls and act almost as intermediaries between parents and school officials.

“We have during the day several phone calls from parents. teachers, school staff and even principals who ask for our help,” Engle said.

If you have questions about the program, you can call 850-767-4230 or visit the BDS website.

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