New Elyria educators teaching English to Spanish-speaking students

ELYRIA, OH (WOIO) - Elyria's Franklin Elementary School has become home to dozens of students from Puerto Rico.

Officials have hired three educators to teach English at the elementary, middle and high school.

Fifth grader Alex Sanchez knows firsthand how hard it is to learn another language.

"It was hard at my age. I started learning, and by the time I was in second grade, I started speaking it a little better actually," he said.

He says teachers and extra programs at school helped him to excel.  He's thrilled Elyria's school district is helping the students who are struggling.

School administrators say since September, there are 30 new students who came straight from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

"We've been reaching out to the parents, bringing them in for parent chats, having family nights based off the traditions in their country, so they feel welcome and part of our community," said Ann Schloss, Associate Superintendent of the Elyria City Schools.

Maria Gilmore is one of those people. She's a bilingual teacher who says her own personal struggles help her in the classroom.

"It is very difficult. As a former ESL student, I'm not from this country, I was born in Nicaragua, came to the U.S. after the civil war, so I know what my students go through. It's a culture shock. You don't speak the language, you don't know what's going on. One day you may be happy, then the next day you may be down, going from class to class, you don't know what's going on," she said.

Alex says his classmates tell him the program is working.

"Sometimes they usually come back to me and tell me: 'Hey, I know how to speak English a little bit better.' And I'm like, yeah, that's good, you're learning," he said.

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