Over the last decade, the town of Russellville, Ala., has seen a huge growth in its Spanish-speaking population. A quarter of all students in the Russellville City Schools district are English learners. And in the last ten years, the percentage of English-learner students statewide has doubled. In response, the Russellville school district has created a robust English-learner program and hired 10 bilingual aides, funded largely by pandemic relief dollars.
Born in Russellville to immigrant parents from El Salvador, Brian Santos started as an EL student in the district. When he entered kindergarten, the district lacked the dedicated support and resources for English learners that they have today. Santos’ teachers supported his language learning by reading easy books with him. Now a high school senior, Santos plans to give back to his community through a career as an HVAC technician.
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