English-Language Learners Photo Essay

PHOTOS: When Support Starts at the District Office

February 06, 2023 1 min read
Inside the mobile book bus on Dec. 20, 2022.
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Late last year, I headed out to Mineral Wells ISD to spend the day with Natalie Griffin, the district’s executive director of special programs, and one of Education Week’s 2023 Leaders to Learn From.

Through conversations with John Kuhn, the superintendent, and administrative support staff, Wanda Harley and Shelia Crabtree, it was clear the district’s success in helping English learners perform on par with their peers in reading starts with a collaborative environment in the central office.

Main 122022 LTLF Natalie Griffin 27 nj BS

From the district office, we headed to Houston Elementary School in Mineral Wells, where we observed a 3rd grade class taught by bilingual teacher Noelia Kuhn. Her students were engaged and outgoing. Kuhn seemed to genuinely care about the well-being of her students. Her passion and drive were obvious.

Though I visited Mineral Wells as a photographer for Education Week, I have a background in education and run a non-profit for creative teens. I found it rewarding to see the district’s approach to bilingual learners up close.

Natalie Griffin, the Executive Director of Special Programs for Mineral Wells ISD in Mineral Wells, Texas, pictured on December 20, 2022.

— Nitashia Johnson for Education Week

More Leaders From This Year

A Leader Who's Busting Down Barriers to Gifted Education
Anthony Vargas has nearly doubled the share of poor and Hispanic students in gifted education in Manassas, Va.
Building Skills for Independent Lives: A Leader's Vision for Students With Disabilities
Dean McGee of Kern High School District in California draws on his personal experience to improve and expand career-technical education.
Making Math Matter: A District Leader's Mission
As a teacher, Tonya Clarke sought to change the way her students saw math. Now, she's bringing her vision districtwide.
She Defied Expectations as a Pregnant Teen. Now She’s Helping English Learners Do the Same
Natalie Griffin found bilingual educators for a district with a long-neglected English-learner population.