Boaz City Schools educators visit THS, TMS to learn about ESL program

Published 2:42 pm Tuesday, December 20, 2022

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

ALABASTER – Educators from Boaz City Schools recently visited Thompson Middle and High School to learn about their “outstanding” English as a Second Language program.

The recommendation was made by the Alabama State Department of Education, to model “sheltered instruction,” according to an official Facebook post by Alabaster City Schools.

“Upon recommendation from their state regional EL coach, the Boaz City Federal Programs Coordinator reached out to Alabaster City Schools to visit our English as a Second Language program, specifically Sheltered Instruction offerings at Thompson Middle and Thompson High Schools,”  ACS District ESL Teacher Mandy Heatherly said. “Sheltered Instruction is an approach to teaching that integrates content and language instruction. This approach is vital to being culturally responsive educators for the increasing multilingual learner population. Offering these types of opportunities is necessary to Alabaster City School’s mission of preparing all students for their future.”

Students in ESL programs are in regular content classes but are taught in a way that makes it accessible to them.

“We are fortunate in our school system that our Curriculum and Instruction Department, especially our Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers, is so supportive of our programs and increasing opportunities for all learners,” Heatherly said.

During the visit, the Boaz City Federal Programs Department was able to see several sheltered classes, Heatherly said. They were also able to participate in a Sheltered History class taught by Amanda Rodriquez at Thompson High School.

“Her class compared and contrasted federalist and antifederalists using academically challenging content with an explicit focus on academic language development,” Heatherly said. “Ms. Rodriguez is extremely gifted when it comes to making content accessible to all students. Her classroom is a model of excellence in our school system and we are proud to share her talents with other school systems.”

Brent Byars, Supervisor of Federal Programs and Elementary Education for ACS, shared additional information on the visit.

“In addition, we were able to discuss planning and scheduling with them, from the middle and high school perspective,” Byars said. “They were impressed with how our administrators and ESL team set up the day to ensure these students receive the support they need to help them succeed.”

Byars also explained in his own words, the reason for the visit.

“Some of the other school systems don’t (necessarily) have the resources we do,” Byars said. “What they wanted to do is see from a secondary perspective.”

More information on ESL education at Alabaster City Schools can be found on the school system’s website at