A handful of Monroe Elementary teachers are becoming astute educators by learning to better communicate with students and parents.

Desiree Highberger, Jaci Tolbert, Tammy Hromas, Heather Harbron, Loretta Fauchier and David Alliss are taking an Autry Technology Center class designed specifically to help them communicate with Spanish-speaking students in the classroom and their parents.

“It’s scary for a kid,” Highberger said of students entering a classroom in which virtually few speak their language. “It’s hard to put yourself out there.”

And Highberger is speaking from experience. She first took an Autry conversational Spanish class last year, but she wanted a class designed to learn specific phrases to help in the classroom with her three Spanish-speaking second-graders.

Lila Winchester teaches educators specific phrases they have requested to learn in the class. The class was specifically designed for the six teachers, and they already have learned phrases like “Settle down,” “Get in line,” “Did you read last night?” and “Silence, please.”

Winchester said the three-month, one-hour-per-week course is one example of how Autry can tailor classes for specific groups.

She is hoping enough teachers sign up for the class to offer it again.

“I think they’re doing a super wonderful job,” Winchester said.

The teachers say they would definitely recommend the class to other teachers who are having a hard time reaching their Spanish-speaking students.

The teachers said they aren’t quite ready to try their new skills on parents yet, but they are gaining confidence with their students.

Harbron said she is enjoying the class — so much so she goes to sleep reciting the Spanish phrases the teachers are learning.

Winchester said the teachers are “wonderful” students and her favorite type of pupils.

“As an instructor, I love to have teachers,” Winchester said.

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