ELL programs guide students to success

Pictured are MHS ELL students Alvaro B., Cecilia O. and Benjamin B. working on a cross-curricular project in ELL teacher McKenzie Wayman's class.

Pictured are MHS ELL students Alvaro B., Cecilia O. and Benjamin B. working on a cross-curricular project in ELL teacher McKenzie Wayman’s class.

By MICHELLE ADAMS / Community Columnist  

Imagine being in a new country, unable to effectively understand the language and yet expected to read and study science, history, math and literature, as well as write essays on a specific topic.

Add being a typical teenager with adolescent pressures to this equation and you have a formula for confusion, burnout and apathy toward education.

English Language Learners struggle with this every day in American schools.

At Montevallo High School, though, ELL teachers are consistently providing pathways to success for these students.

In addition to working with students to instill strategies to best study and understand subject matter, they have also provided recent workshops to assist them in navigating their way through our educational system.

The first workshop was conducted by Shelby County Schools graduate Victor Cuicahua, who helped students understand their options for immigration and scholarships available to them.

Alejandra Ocampo conducted the second workshop, in which she spoke on the value and importance of education, as well as self-image, pride, aspirations and culture, providing reflective activities for former and current English Language Learning students.

“Both presenters spoke in Spanish,” ELL teacher McKenzie Wayman said. “This was incredible for our students who are classified as Non-English proficient. For them to get vital information in their native language about their ability to pursue their dreams in this country helps them to realize the immense possibilities for their future. Additionally, the topics were catered specifically for them based on the real life or academic struggles English Language Learners face.”

These workshops, and the work ELL teachers do with students, help them to be better prepared for their classes and for the steps they need to take to reach their future goals.

“We encourage parents and families, as well as our community, to support and assist our ELL students in any way possible,” Wayman said. “The African proverb stating that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is true for any of our children, not just our native English speaking students.”