Thomasville area educators address needs of ESL speakersPost Published On:
On Friday, March 13, a group of Thomasville area educators and community leaders met at the Thomas County Public Library to discuss the pressing issues they face when serving students who speak languages other than English as their first language as part of the first Southwest Georgia ESL Roundtable. This group included K-12 educators from both Thomasville City Schools and Thomas County Schools, postsecondary educators and students from Southern Regional Technical College and Thomas University, and representatives from the Thomasville Community Resource Center.
Robin DePaola of Thomas University and Emily Ross of Thomas County Schools worked together for a year to gather this group for the roundtable meeting. Their goal is to create a network of information and resources that addresses the educational needs of ESL (English as a Second Language) speakers in Southwest Georgia. DePaola and Ross hope to serve the K-12 and postsecondary ESL students in Thomas County and the surrounding counties through the discussion of educational topics and resources among stakeholders.
As this group develops, DePaola and Ross plan to include educators and community leaders beyond Thomas County. At the March 13 meeting, the group established a list of pressing challenges that members face in their respective institutions. Among those needs were limited transportation; difficulties ESL students face as they graduate from high school and enter college; legal issues faced by both the students and their families; and the medical needs these students face. Many also mentioned the hurdle of finding translation resources so information and materials can be fully understood by both the student and his or her family.
Connie Barrett of Southern Regional Technical College noted the area needs a repository for information to help everyone with the specific needs of second language learners. Many resources are already in place and were shared with the group. Kelly Blackwell, who works at Southern Regional and Thomasville Community Resource Center, discussed how they are providing literacy resources to children in the area.
Also representing Thomas University at the meeting were Mengchu Chen and Binglei Li, current students in TU’s Master of Science in Nursing program.