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Educating ESL

A photo of Shana Welch teaching

Eleven Kennett Consolidated School District (KCSD) Educators Earn English as a Second Language (ESL) Certificate through New Cabrini Partnership

At KCSD, nearly a quarter of all learners hail from another country– including Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Spain, Venezuela and Panama– and qualify for English Language Development (ELD) services. 

All District educators are tasked with helping them to develop their distinct superpower– the ability to speak English as a second language. 

Now, our educators are more equipped than ever to do so thanks to a new partnership.

In December, a cohort of eleven became the first to earn their ESL Certifications with Cabrini University. 

“Please join us in congratulating Leigh Carpenter, Colleen Catto, Jennifer Daveler, Kevin Lentz, Jaclyn Musser, Katherine Roten, Joy Sydenstricker, John Trainor, Natalie Vanhoorebeke and Shana Welch on their achievement” remarked KCSD Superintendent Dusty Blakey. 

“The ESL Teacher Education Program was an invaluable opportunity for KCSD teachers to collaborate and learn alongside their peers from Avon Grove and Oxford,” added Brenna Austin, Supervisor of ELD. “In Kennett, we recognize the importance of making all content accessible to all English Learners. So, enhancing all educators' skills in English Language Development is a real priority for us.” 

Participants in the one-year program received their tuition and books free thanks to the U.S. Department of Education National Professional Development Program. 

At Kennett Middle School (KMS), the experience has especially impacted two educators– Joy Sydenstricker and Shana Welch– who teach as a part of the school’s inaugural Multilingual Academy. 

“I have always had English Language Learners (ELLs) in my classrooms, but I have not had any formal education in how to teach language,” said Sydenstricker, a Math teacher. “That’s why I signed up– and I’m glad that I did because this year we started the Multilingual Academy.” 

The KMS Newcomer Academy provides a welcome first home for English learners, including many with limited formal education. “Sixth, seventh and eighth grade students in the Newcomer Academy travel with each other to classes throughout the day,” explained Welch. “Together they learn both the language and how to apply it.” 

According to Sydenstricker, there was more than one takeaway to apply from her time in the Cabrini ESL Teacher Education Program. One of the most important was that connection leads to better learning. So, the teaching team now coordinates their content. 

“For example, in Social Studies, I am teaching about Winter right now. And in ELD Mr. McCullough is teaching about –ing verbs,” explained Welch. “So, I asked our students to complete an activity on Winter weather using –ing verbs.” 

Welch reflected that she and her colleagues have since experienced many quiet moments of celebration. “One of the students, a girl, read a sentence from that activity perfectly,” exclaimed Welch. “She said ‘It was snowing outside yesterday.’ I didn’t want to embarrass her so I waited until later to say how well she’d done!” 

Sydenstricker and Welch offered advice that all KCSD teachers can apply to enhance the experience of ELD learners. 

Sydenstricker said “you can get to know your kids. In my experience, spending one-on-one time with especially your ELD students makes them more comfortable because they know you care about them.” 

Welch added “At the end of the day, if you treat all kids with kindness, they will meet and exceed expectations– but you’ve got to smile. Even if you or they are frustrated, you’ve got to smile.”

The next class of Cabrini ESL Teacher Education Program participants will graduate in May. 

Those interested in learning more about English Language Development at the Kennett Consolidated School District are invited to contact Supervisor of ELD Brenna Austin at baustin@kcsd.org