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Breaking Down Language Barriers at Belle Stone

By Amy Konigsberger, Principal
Imagine going to a school where the language is different from what you speak at home!  
Stone kidsThis is the case for quite a few of our Belle Stone Bulldogs. We have 34 children whose home and native languages include Spanish, Quiche, and Arabic, and 11 students who were born outside of the United States. 
English Learners are a growing part of the student population across the state, the district, and here at Belle Stone Elementary School. 
Upon enrollment, families list their home and native language(s). If it is something other than English, students are given an OELPS assessment with scores in the areas of speaking, reading, writing, and listening. These scores help determine how much support students are going to need accessing the curriculum. 
Miss Izzy Ogilvie has joined the team at Belle Stone as our EL teacher. Miss Ogilvie works with EL students in and out of the classroom to help support learning, language, and social skills. 
“I love to work specifically with our English learners because I love to see how they connect with each other and how they become more confident in their classes throughout the year,” Miss Ogilvie said, “I often get to see students in a smaller group setting where their personalities really shine. The EL students will start to make connections with each other as they excitedly point out where they used to live on my map or as they hear another student mention their favorite soccer team; it makes for such strong rapport when they are able to feel seen not only by me or their teachers, but also by each other.”
She continued, “Another part of my role that I really enjoy is that I get to work with a variety of staff members at Belle Stone who collaborate with me. We get to share ideas that help differentiate for our students as well as highlight their strengths in the classroom. I am excited to see the growth our district will make in ensuring an accessible educational experience for each of our multilingual families and students!”        
Students get very excited to work with Miss Ogilvie. One first grader, Catalina, said she loves school and loves Miss Ogilvie! Catalina says Miss Ogilvie helps with reading and practicing words.
“I get to talk and play learning games with my friends Elisa, Jassaymi, and Miguel,” she said.  Bianca is a 2nd-grade EL student who loves learning! She said, “Vowel teams were hard to learn, but Miss Ogilvie uses pictures and helps us practice the right sounds. On Fridays, we play Quizmo and fun rhyming games.”   
Third graders Domingo and Mario like going to class together. Domingo said, “We learn how to read better and we talk about the books we are reading.”  
Adds Mario, “When I was little, I didn’t have many friends. But then I met Domingo and now our families are all friends. We get to be friends at home and at school!”