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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Spanish Community Service Learning Anecdote 6

by Ann Abbott

My students' assignment was to write a fund-raising letter for the community partner organization in which they work for this class. This student's letter does a very good job of identifying a specific, concrete need that a donor can help with. She sets up the problem--books that are unique, expensive and work well but that the teacher doesn't have enough of--in a way that a potential donor can easily see what impact their money would have.

I also like that this student describes what is the same about this classroom--the posters, an engaged and talented teacher--not just the differences.

Guadalupe Ricconi is a 4th grade teacher at an elementary school named Booker T. Washington in Champaign, Illinois. Like many other 4th grade teachers throughout the country, she has smaller classes so she can devote one-on-one attention to her students, her classroom is filled with giant, colorful posters to spark the students’ interest and she truly loves her job, and cares about her students. But the thing that is different about Guadalupe Ricconi’s class is that all of her students come from underprivileged backgrounds where their first language is Spanish. Guadalupe is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher who teaches her students in Spanish for half the day, and English for the other half. While some of her students have really grasped the English language, there are others like José María, who began the program late and have trouble putting simple sentences together. In order to help student like José María, Guadalupe buys special books which helps the students ease into the English language. The problem, however, is that these books are very expensive and hard to find, and the children have already gone through all of the books that she’s bought for the year.

It is because of issues like these that I am writing to you on behalf of Booker T. Washington elementary school in Champaign, Illinois. Booker T. Washington serves 250 students in from kindergarten to the 5th grade, 42% who identify themselves as Hispanic.

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