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West Orange Residents Learn English Thanks to Title III Grant

WEST ORANGE, NJ - Thanks to a federally-funded Title III grant, West Orange residents ages 18 and older are learning English at no cost. This program, led by Mr. Felix Plata, World Language/English as a Second Language (ESL) supervisor for the West Orange Public School District, has two objectives: to offer a supportive program for multilingual West Orange residents that develops their English speaking, reading, and writing ability, and to foster the relationship between the school and parent communities. 

“These parents often feel disconnected from the public school system because of a language barrier. Through this program, adult learners will be better able to participate in our English-speaking community, as well as feel more comfortable and welcomed in our schools,” said Plata.

The program has two components: in-person instruction and virtual instruction. In-person instruction takes place twice-weekly at Washington and Hazel Elementary Schools, the most linguistically diverse school zones in the district. The instructors are Mrs. Leanna Amorim and Mrs. Laura Santimauro, both educators in the West Orange Public Schools. Virtual instruction takes place via the Rosetta Stone online platform, which is a self-paced, intuitive program that can be accessed via computer, cellphone, or tablet, anywhere or anytime. Rosetta Stone support sessions are facilitated once monthly at both Washington and Hazel Schools by Mrs. Sintya Esquivel of the district’s technology department. The in-person course incorporates Rosetta Stone usage, but largely utilizes a curriculum developed by district educators designed to meet the needs of the adult learners.

ESL courses for adults have previously been offered in West Orange with varied success.  However, during the 2021-2022 school year, the program was redesigned to focus on superior instruction and participant retention, to better meet the needs of the adult learners in the community. That year, the program maintained 70 adult learners with over 200 residents on a waiting list. Currently, the program has over 250 residents registered using Rosetta Stone with fidelity, and an additional 70 residents who participate in in-person instruction and support. Due to the high demand for in-person instruction, participants were chosen by lottery.

In the spring, the school year will close with a multilingual celebration to recognize students who have earned the New Jersey State Seal of Biliteracy, as well as induct students into the French, Spanish, Italian, and Chinese language honor societies. Additionally, adult language learners who have demonstrated exceptional commitment and progress in their English language acquisition will be recognized. At that time, the staff who have contributed to the success of the program will be acknowledged: Mrs. Sintya Esquivel, Mrs. Leanna Amorim, and Mrs. Laura Santimauro, as well as Dr. Dana Peart for her assistance during the initial implementation of the program.

This program is in alignment with the mission and vision of the West Orange Public Schools World Language/ESL department: to develop a globally competent, multilingual, and culturally responsive community. 

West Orange residents are able to enroll in this program throughout the school year by completing the form in the link below: 

Thanks to West Orange High School French teacher Dr. Dana Peart for the article.

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Ms. Madeline Machuca, Administrative Assistant for ESL at Central Office, Dr. Dana Peart, Mr. Felix Plata, Ms. Sintya Esquivel

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Washington Principal Marie DeMaio, Leanna Amorim, and Laura Santimauro

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Dana Peart
Jan. 18, 2024