ESL Academy Helps Language Learners – and Families – Prep for ELA, Math

In what made for a festive and exciting event, the Glen Cove School District’s English as a Second Language Saturday Academy culminated with a special celebration in the Finley Middle School Mini-Center, where students received certificates for their hard work in completing the program. Along with the recognition, special group presentations, cultural food and music complemented the finale.

Now in its second year, the ESL Academy was created to help ESL students and students who exited the ESL program within the past two years prepare for New York State assessments in English Language Arts and math. The program welcomes many students for most of whom Spanish is their native language, although not all.
Monica Chavez, Coordinator of Foreign Language and ESL for the district and supervisor of the ESL Saturday Academy, welcomed those in attendance to the academy’s closing ceremony. “I’m thankful to the teachers who have sacrificed their Saturdays to come and dedicate their time to working with our children,” she said. “This will be a great benefit for our students.”
Ms. Chavez explained that the program is not only geared toward preparing students for the state assessments, but also for providing support for children to become more comfortable with the English language. A variety of writing activities, including essay composition, poetry, reading comprehension and analysis of texts, was conducted in classes to prepare students for the ELA exam, while for mathematics, students worked on problem-solving, computation and other math activities.

Rosita Mallo, Morgan Becht, Amy Mendrinos, Gaetano Vaccaro, Elizabeth Sohanchyk-Nagler, Alexandra Rivera, Briana Fazio, Jennifer Beauchamp, Max Pinsky and Christine Johnson are the teachers who work the academy. “They are the heart and soul of the program,” added Ms. Chavez.  “Without them, there is no program.”

She also explained that this year, the program expanded this year to accept 60 students spanning grades kindergarten through eight, allowing for the younger siblings as well as parents to participate in the Academy, which offered ESL for Adults for the first time.
Following presentations from students who discussed their learning experiences at the Academy and how the program helped them develop stronger writing and math skills, certificates for participation were presented to students, parents and teachers of the program, and perfect attendance certificates were distributed to students and parents.
“This is a great opportunity for kids to respond to learning,” said Ms. Becht an ESL teacher at Connolly Elementary School who teaches third-grade advanced ELA and math for the ESL Saturday Academy program. “The more exposure they have, the better prepared and confident they’ll be for the assessments. This gives them confidence.”

Ronaldo Velasquez, 15, said that he benefited from taking the eighth-grade math class and an ELA class as part of the ESL Saturday Academy program. “It helped me a lot more with my English,” he said, noting that he speaks Spanish regularly. Of the state assessment in ELA, he said, “It was hard, but the program helped me a little bit more for it.”

Third-grader Katie Arevalo described the program as fun and said she enjoyed learning more about both ELA and math, and being able to go to class with friends. “We did different projects, and this made it easier for me,” she said, referring to the preparation for state assessments. “I would want to do it again next year.”
The event concluded with an assortment of delectable treats and drinks, as well as music. Families, friends and teachers gathered to share stories and enjoy the final day of the program.