Updated: Jan 23
by Tigerlily Hopson
Will East Side ever have a Spanish teacher? After a rocky week the answer to this question seems unclear. On Tuesday January 7th, the School Leadership Team (SLT) gathered together to debate on the subject of East Side’s foreign language program. Many parents present argued multiple years of language should be mandatory; one mother exclaimed that her years of Spanish in high school, “serve me for sure, living in New York City.” She continued by saying how learning a language, even though she never became fluent, “opened up my mind to the arrogance of American English speakers.” Others articulated that they did not feel that learning another language was necessary, especially living in America.
Joe said his goal was that he wants students to have a good experience in language at East Side so when they leave they have confidence in the promise of learning a language in college or later in life.
Principal Mark affirmed at the meeting that despite the school spending a hefty amount of money on ads for a Spanish teacher, all the teachers interviewed so far had been insufficient for the needs of East Side. He said that if they did not find a teacher in the next week, students would get a choice if they wanted to use their language block to receive a language credit by completing a Rosetta Stone course, or could choose to be enrolled in an SAT prep program, and then could take language next year.
Mark said no matter how this semester turned out, he had high hopes for the future. He wants language to become an option for 9th and 10th graders as a studio choice, as well as built in the 11th and 12th grader’s schedules. He hopes to offer beginning Spanish as well as upper level courses featuring the study of Spanish film and literature by next year, and also still wants to prioritize some sort of immersion course, which may be offered in the summer.
The chances of finding a teacher for this semester seemed grim as the meeting came to an end, but that night Mark received an email. A teacher, Diana Narvaez, who had previously and successfully taught Spanish in multiple middle schools was reached out to about the position, and she expressed strong interest in working at East Side. She is completing her last semester of graduate school, and then planned to look for work. After Joe talked to her over the phone on Wednesday, January 9th, he asked her to come in for an interview the following day.
The interviewers last Thursday were immediately blown away by her poise and passion for teaching Spanish, and after a short discussion offered her the job. By Friday it seemed to be official that she would start teaching at East Side as soon as next week.
Unfortunately, this news seems too good to be true. This Saturday, Joe stated that, “at this point she has been unable to accept the position due to her grad school program. I've been doing everything I can to help her figure out something feasible.” In the meantime, he has started to reach out to other candidates. This past week he has worked closely with her and her graduate school program, in hopes to work out a schedule for this semester that would allow her to teach, and attend all the classes she needs too.
On Tuesday, January 14th, Joe said he had given his final proposal to Diana and should know for sure in the next couple days if she can teach this semester. “I’m not giving up hope,” he said, even if Diana is unable to teach.
There are still many unanswered questions about East Side’s foreign language program. As the end of the first semester approaches, hopefully these questions will be answered, and a pathway to beginning and advanced Spanish classes will develop.
Last Tuesday’s SLT meeting mulling over how to incorporate foreign language into East Side’s curriculum.