St. Martin East Elementary first in the district to offer Spanish

By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) – "Hola," a girl said to her classmate.

"Hola. Very good," the teacher told her.

They've only had one Spanish lesson so far and the children are already carrying on a simple conversation.  Mrs. Kim Windham's class at St. Martin East Elementary School is the only first grade class in the Jackson County School District to begin a foreign language program.

"More Spanish speaking families in our community," said Jackson County School Superintendent Dr. Barry Amacker. "Plus, it's a cultural thing. You enlarge the children's perspective of knowing and meeting other people and being able to communicate."

What makes the program even more unique is that their teacher does not have to physically be in the classroom. She can teach from five-miles away at St. Martin High School.  Using a remote-controlled camera and television screen, Erica Scott can see, hear, and interact with the little ones.

"We already had the distance learning equipment in place where we use it for the high school level," said Amacker.  "We already have a Spanish teacher at each of the high schools.  So this gives them an opportunity to use their expertise to help, at no expense to the district."

"I know I can't go into conjugating verbs in here," said Scott.  "Of course, we can use verbs. I'm more interested in teaching the first grade class how to speak Spanish."

Their lessons focus on colors, numbers, ordering food and polite greetings.

"Hasta luego," Scott told her students.

"Hasta luego," the class responded.

"Because it will help you really want to get along with people with Spanish," said first grader Madison Scott.

Learning Spanish early could help the children master the language later in life.

"In high school, it's going to be a little harder than first grade.  So you have to learn it in first grade to learn it in high school," said first grader Anna Probst.

"So if there are Spanish people in the future, you can talk Spanish to them," said first grader Hanh Bui.

When asked if Spanish is hard, Hanh shook her head and said, "Easy."

The Spanish classes are held every Wednesday morning.  Scott plans to get her high school Spanish students involved by speaking Spanish with the elementary children. If the pilot program is successful, it could expand to other elementary schools in Vancleave and East Central.

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