There are approximately 70 English as a Second Language (ESL) learners enrolled in the Westwood Regional School District for the 2016-2017 school year. The first language for most of the learners is Spanish, though several other first languages are spoken by our ESL population. Some other first languages spoken by our students include; Arabic, Hungarian, Turkish, Japanese, Malayalam, Korean, Georgian, Portuguese, and Albanian.
Our district ESL program is a state mandated program. When a student enters the district, ESL instructors screen potential ESL learners to determine their level of English proficiency. If it is determined that the student is eligible for ESL services, then the student enters the program. In the spring the ESL students take an assessment to measure the progress that each student has made with respect to their proficiency in the English Language. If the student reaches a certain benchmark, then the student exits the ESL program. This year the ESL teachers have been trained to give the ACCESS (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners) assessment online for the first time.
Most of the ESL students attend our elementary schools; however there are approximately 15 ESL students in grades 6-12. The ESL student population represents a diverse range of English proficiency. When it comes to English proficiency a majority of the students operate at the beginner and intermediate levels. Students are either enrolled in a “sheltered program” where students work one period a day with a certified ESL instructor, while other students are enrolled in a “high intensity” program and receive ESL instruction for two periods each school day.
The Westwood Regional School District has five dedicated ESL instructors who work in five of the district schools. Susan Wahling spends her time instructing students at the high school and Washington School. Rosemary Fox and Bonnie Astudillo instruct their students at Berkeley School, while Kelly Le Parc instructs her students at Brookside School. Maria Hittinger teaches both French and ESL at the middle school.
Our five ESL teachers should be commended not only for helping their students learn to read, write, and speak English, but for helping to make sure that their families are successfully integrated into the culture of our community. This year, Mrs. Astudillo and Mrs. Fox will offer evening Computer Literacy Training for the parents of ESL students.
When asked to describe what it is like to work with the ESL community at Berkeley School, Mrs. Fox states: “Working with the ESL community is so rewarding. We are a family. We support our families in any way we can. Monthly parent meetings, programs, community outreach and academic support are just to name a few. We develop a relationship with them that carries over throughout their child's education and beyond.”
When asked to describe what it is like to work with the ESL community at Brookside School Mrs. LeParc states: “The students are enthusiastic and eager to learn; they love coming to ESL class! The parents are most appreciative and thankful of our efforts as teachers, a school community and as a district. The ELLs families are very warm, eager to help their children, and always with a smile. We are all part of the Brookside family. Our families are very diverse; we have students from India, Korea, Mexico, the Republic of Georgia, the Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica.”
If you have any questions about our district's ESL program please reach out to me at 201 664-0880 Ext. 2070 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org