Enid Public Schools has taken an important step in bridging the language gap facing many of its students and their families.
The district has named an ELL liaison to assist English Language Learner students and their families. Jennifer Fields, a longtime EPS teacher, will start in the new position in the 2019-20 school year. She is a 21-year teacher, with the last five serving as ELL teacher at Longfellow Middle School.
The ELL liaison is to be “the go-to” between all the organizations and resources available in Enid, and the diverse communities represented in the school district, said Randy Rader, assistant superintendent of elementary education.
There certainly is a need for the position. Enid has a large Spanish-speaking population, as well as a significant population of Marshallese and Micronesian. Fields’ office will be located in the Administrative Services Center, but the idea is for her to be out and about town as often as possible, Rader said.
“One of the mistakes we sometimes make is telling people what they need, instead of reacting to their needs,” Rader said. “We want this person to be reacting.”
EPS is modeling the role after a similar position in the Springdale, Ark., school district. Like Enid, Springdale has a significant Marshallese and Micronesian population, as well as a Spanish-speaking demographic.
Language, cultural differences and the unfamiliarity of a new home can all be barriers to finding help in a given community.
“What we’re looking for is that one person that can go to all the different organizations ... and help coordinate,” Rader said.
Having a liaison to work with the diverse population of Enid students and their families should be a big benefit.