K-State introduces program to create more bilingual teachers in Dodge City

Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 2:28 PM CST
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - K-State has introduced a new program to create more bilingual teachers in the Dodge City School District.

Kansas State University says its Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy and partners in Dodge City will use a $2.9 million grant to strengthen bilingual education.

K-State indicated that Project RESPETAME - Reimagining Educational Systems by Practicing Equity and Translanguaging and Accessing Multiliterate Experiences - is a National Professional Development grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Partners include Dodge City Community College and Dodge City Public Schools.

Socorro Herrera, executive director of the Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy, said the project is meant to support change for emergent bilingual learners and their peers. The grant will provide professional development chances for pre-K, elementary and secondary teachers - as well as support for 20 bilingual students who major in elementary education.

K-State noted that Herrera is the internationally recognized expert on biography-driven, culturally responsive teaching and the primary investigator on the grant. She collaborates with districts to support teacher capacity building and effective partnerships with families and communities.

Debbie Mercer, dean of the College of Education, said she believes the project will position the Dodge City education system for future success.

“The power of this grant lies in the longstanding and collaborative nature of the relationship between educators in Dodge City and the K-State College of Education,” Mercer said. “This grant is somewhat unique in that it is addressing both the immediate needs of the community’s bilingual learners and the district’s effort to attract more bilingual teachers of color to Dodge City classrooms.”

Through the project, K-State said pre-K-12 educators will develop increased capacities to foster language and biliteracy or multiliteracy development.

Herrera said teachers will get site-based professional development on culturally responsive practices to maximize the sociocultural, linguistic, cognitive, and academic assets of students and their families. In addition, she said secondary educators will complete coursework that leads to an endorsement in English to speakers of other languages.

Diana Mendoza, Dodge City Public Schools director of English to speakers of other languages and diversity, said the grant is a chance to enhance the district’s current initiatives and continue building the bridge between core instruction, strategies for teaching English and family engagement.

“The goals of the grant will serve as conduits for providing teachers and staff with the support needed to address the diverse needs of our school community,” Mendoza said.

K-State indicated that the project also creates an innovative path for teachers to prepare for bilingual students of color who want to remain in the city while wearing their bachelor’s degrees and teaching in the district. It said students will maximize dual credit opportunities before they transition to Dodge City Community College and then complete their bachelor’s degree online through K-State’s College of Education.

“We are excited about this fantastic opportunity to develop our pipeline of diverse and talented educators,” said Martha Mendoza, principal of Dodge City High School. “This grant will allow us to invest in our current teachers and grow our own future teachers by supporting our high school students interested in becoming educators in Dodge City. As an English language learner, I know firsthand the impact teachers had on me when they valued my assets and knew how to support my needs. I am thrilled that this project will provide our district with new opportunities to enhance teachers’ capacities for culturally responsive teaching.”

K-State said the program will incorporate youth participatory action research and specialized seminars, advising and field experience to facilitate teachers’ understanding of self, learners and their communities. When they finish their degrees, it said the students will be ready to serve local schools and the next generation of culturally and linguistically diverse learners.