PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — With an influx of immigrants moving to Bay County to help with the rebuilding efforts, also comes an influx of immigrant children.
Some teachers in the area are struggling with the language barrier that has arisen for some of these students.
“I feel silly walking around with a Google translator all the time,” said Caroline Brantley, a first grade teacher at Patronis Elementary.
She said the language barrier can turns everyday lessons into unique challenges.
“In first grade, [students] have trouble keeping their hands to their-self,” she said. “That’s even hard to tell them.”
Bay District Schools currently has almost one thousand English language learners (ELL) in classrooms, which is a one hundred and twenty-five student increase from last year.
As teachers work to engage these students, they’re getting help through Elevate Bay; a local program which supports at-risk children in Bay District Schools.
“We really want to see that every child that’s struggling, every child that’s facing instability, that needs that extra support and encouragement, receives that,” said Stacey Legg, a specialist for the mentor initiative program.
Through the program, volunteers can sign up to help in classrooms all over the district, working with students who need them.
Bilingual mentors are especially needed, as they help English-learning students connect to their peers and instructors within the classroom.
“They’re really helping them with basics like numbers, colors, just following directions,” said Brantley.
“Everyone’s working together for the students,” said Legg.
Brantley said it’s helping teachers too.
“It’s been very helpful to have mentors that can bond with the ELL students,” she said. “It just helps me realize that they’re enjoying my class and that they’re learning and that they feel comfortable having someone that speaks their native language.”
If you’re interested in becoming a mentor with Elevate Bay, they will be holding a mentorship orientation on Wednesday, October 9th, at the Bay District Schools Nelson building at 12:30 pm.
For more information, click here.