WHITE CITY, Ore. – A new study by the Department of Education shows students who learn English as second language are struggling when it comes to meeting educational objectives for their grade.
School District 9 just hired two new principals each with diverse background in education.
Education officials hope this will help improve the learning environment of students and therefore improve test scores.
The new principal at Hillside Elementary, Jenn Whitehead, has taught in Texas, New Mexico, and New Zealand before coming here. Mountain View Elementary School’s new principal, Karina Rizo, is originally from Medford, but is a native Spanish speaker.
Approximately, 53 percent of students at Mountain View Elementary School come from a Hispanic background. Rizo said she can relate to these students and their families because she herself grew up speaking Spanish as her native language.
“You can be from different cultures and smile and be friendly and be welcoming, but there is just something special about having someone there who is one of your own,” said Rizo.
Although most students at the school are bi-lingual, some of their parents aren’t. This is where Rizo’s Spanish skills comes in handy.
“It helps me because if I need help on something she could tell my mom,” said student Emily Delacruz.
“They feel like I am one of them… our Hispanic families so they are more involved in the school when I reach out to them, and they’re more willing to come in for meetings like PTO or conferences because they know someone will be there that speaks their language, “said Rizo.
Teachers said having principals with diverse backgrounds helps them succeed in their classrooms.
“I’m able to communicate with them and learn more from them as they come in, and we learn every time a new teacher or administrator comes into our building because they bring new experiences and help us grow,” said English language development teacher Jennifer Casav.
Which is exactly what another new principal in that same school district expects to bring to the table with her former teaching background from New Zealand.
“Even though I went all the way across the world to a different country that parents are the same and kids are the same no matter where you go,” said Whitehead.
Whitehead said her experiences taught her how people teach around the world, and now she is implementing some of New Zealand’s teaching style back here in the United States.
Whitehead said one of the new programs being put in place at Hillside Elementary is weekly assemblies where students are recognized for displaying good character. Education officials for District 9 said both principals were hired because they were highly qualified for the position.