Rogers Elementary Offers Spanish Program

June 29, 2015 | Clare Thompson

As the board and faculty of Rogers Adventist School in College Place, Wash., learned about the multiple benefits of children learning a second language, they were eager to offer that opportunity to their students. Because Spanish is such an important language in their area, they focused on how they could provide Spanish language instruction and realized they didn’t have money to hire someone to do that. So, they turned to Adventist Volunteer Services to help bring a native Spanish-speaking teacher to the school.

Eli Entrena — a parent, board member, teacher in the community and native Spanish speaker herself — guided the process and helped find not one but two women who were willing to come. Sandra Fuentes Lopez came from Sagunto, Spain, at the beginning of the school year. Six weeks later, Karen Guerra arrived from Costa Rica. In return for only a small living allowance, room, board and insurance, they taught Spanish in every classroom each day for about 15 minutes. That is the minimum amount of time children need on a daily basis to really learn a new language. Entrena also provided direction in lesson planning.

Profe Karen and Profe Sandra, as they're known, are musical and energetic, and their love for children and their Lord is obvious. Children have learned through singing, game playing and oral practice. Spanish class has become one of the highlights in the school day for the students. Cherish Fesler, a fifth-grader, says, “It’s fun to learn a different language, and the Spanish teachers are really nice to us.”

Each week during family groups time, Profe Karen and Profe Sandra lead the student body in singing at least one song in Spanish, and then song service ends with singing the school song, based on Micah 6:8, in both English and Spanish. The Spanish teachers recently handed out ice cream to the children who were willing to ask politely for it in Spanish.

To increase awareness of the printed language, staff have labeled objects throughout the school with names in both English and Spanish. This is a constant reminder to children, parents and staff and helps staff remember vocabulary. In addition, as part of morning announcements, the “profes” read a short statement that correlates with the week’s lessons.

Staff are making plans for two new volunteers to spend this next school year at Rogers. They will build on the foundation laid this year and increase students' Spanish-speaking skills even more.