Building Skills & Connections At Richland High’s English Language Learner Summer School

Building Skills & Connections At Richland High’s English Language Learner Summer School

The students attending Richland High School’s summer school for English language learners (ELL) and migrant students had a lot to say when their teachers asked for written feedback on the program.

“Helped me be more confident in my English.”

“(Got) to know people and have a great time.”

“I wouldn’t change anything…I loved everything.”

“We worked at our own pace…I liked it a lot.”

ELL Art Class

Roughly 20 students from a variety of cultural backgrounds participated in the four-week program. First languages spoken by the students included Mandarin Chinese, Ukrainian, Russian, Portuguese, Thai and Spanish.

The school developed the program to help students become more proficient in English and be successful academically when the school year begins at the end of August, while also providing lessons in creativity and workplace skills. At the same time, it also built relationships and helped the student develop their sense of belonging at Richland High.

“There was a lot of peer-to-peer help and mentoring taking place. Students would help others with word pronunciations and language. It was really exciting to see,” says English Language Arts Teacher Makynzie Frost.

The ELL Summer School was led and organized by ELL Instructional Specialist Stefanie Heintz, Assistant Principal Erin Eason, Principal Steve Fisk and many others involved in the ELL program.

During English language arts lessons, students practiced conversational English as well as academic language that can help them in all subject areas throughout the school year. They dove deep into words such as ‘annotate,’ ‘demonstrate,’ and ‘categorize’ to understand what the words meant and how to use them correctly. 

ELL Cooking Class

But the summer school program wasn’t all reading and writing:

  • An art class with teacher Brock Sadler provided students a chance to work together painting a mural on an exterior column of RHS with the words ‘la migracion es beautiful’ (migration is beautiful) and a monarch butterfly.
  • Students spent time in a cooking class with teacher Jenna Worcester. Projects included baking cookies that are popular from their cultural heritages and a final cooking competition judged by teachers and RHS Principal, Mr. Fisk.
  • On Fridays the students attended field trips. They learned vocabulary pertaining to the specific activities they participated in which included bowling, roller skating and a tour of Columbia Basin College.

ELL Summer School help boost the confidence of students, teachers said. Senior Jon Graves explained he got to know people better throughout the 4 weeks, all while having a great time.

Many strong relationships were also built over the course of summer school. Conversations about their experiences as English learners helped students make connections with each other.