Language programs in Amherst schools receive $543,000 boost

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Posted: 02/07/2022 06:39:42

Modified: 07/02/2022 06:38:01

AMHERST — Improving the bilingual program for elementary students at Fort River School and creating a spring and summer program for high school students learning to speak English are among the projects to be funded by a state grant of $543,125.

This week, Amherst Public Schools was among four school districts in the state selected to receive an Alternative Education Programs Grant for English Learners from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“We are thrilled and grateful for the opportunity these grant funds will provide us to enhance and expand our existing programs and partnerships, as well as implement an exciting new program that will support our English language students at all levels,” Superintendent Michael said. Morris in a statement.

For the Caminantes program, which began in the fall of 2019 with kindergarten students learning both Spanish and English, and which has added a grade level every year since, the grant will go to a month-long program in July which will provide educational support and artistic integration activities. for students.

The money will also be used to purchase Caminantes equipment and supplies, as well as books written in Spanish, as the bilingual program expands to third grade this fall.

Teacher-led professional development opportunities are also covered by the grant, with teachers from Caminantes attending the Massachusetts Bilingual Educators Association conference. There will also be ongoing collaboration with the University of Massachusetts and the public schools of Holyoke and Springfield to have a regional bilingual center for teacher training, to offer the Seal of Biliteracy program and to improve access to heritage languages, by example through parent-child book clubs.

Amherst schools will use part of the grant to purchase multilingual materials to expand libraries at all grade levels, in addition to accessing more reading materials for students whose first language is not l English and better involve multilingual families.

Finally, the grant will help develop and implement the new project-based spring and summer program for secondary English Learner students. Known as the ELL High School Academy program, it will improve English language acquisition and build the leadership capacity of these students by designing programs that they can then offer to younger students over the summer.

To obtain the grant, Amherst had to achieve four goals, including the continued development and implementation of an alternative bilingual program for English learners, the creation of a bilingual education center to help efforts across the state and region, and the creation of multilingual libraries for the benefit of students from diverse ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds and high school academies that promote academic success, with an emphasis on English skills.

Scott Merzbach can be contacted at [email protected]

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