Students from Success High School’s English Language Learners (ELL) program known as Academic Language Academy at Success (ALAS) make regular visits to neighboring Voigt Elementary School to read and mentor ELL Pre-K students with emerging English skills.
ALAS lead teacher Kinzie Morgan approached the idea to partner with Voigt as a way for her students to practice their English in a non-intimidating environment.
“When they get to come and be the experts, it changes their whole demeanor,” Morgan said. “They hold their shoulders a little straighter, and they’re proud to come over and make the other kids feel special in the way they like to feel themselves. They recognize the journey they share.”
The partnership started last year and Voigt bilingual Pre-K teacher Ana Garza has noticed a difference in the Success students.
“The Success students who did this last year are noticeably more confident,” Garza said. “They come into the classroom eager, motivated and as leaders.”
Garza’s Pre-K students are equally as enthusiastic about the opportunity to share a story and their classroom with the older students.
“Some of my students don’t have books in their homes at all,” Garza said. “The students get excited about having someone who connects with them and gives them one-on-one time. They place value in books, friendship and sharing the activity together.”
The connection between the high school students and Pre-K students has been so fulfilling that Success students have asked Garza if they can schedule a time to visit her class outside of their school hours.
Before immigrating to the U.S. Success junior Claudia Martinez was a teacher in Cuba. In Cuba, students begin practicing their chosen career while still in high school.
“If it were up to me I’d come every day. I enjoy the kids and learn from them too,” Claudia said.