The Hispanic population in Florida increased by 57% in a decade. The student population in Seminole County Public Schools is 18% Hispanic. And Hispanic students have a high dropout rate. These statistics put pressure on the school system and Hispanic students adapt and improve. Two Hispanic high school students and the Coordinator of the ESOL and World Languages program describe the challenges faced by Hispanic students and the programs that assist them (length 20:58).
Seminole County public schools provide many programs to assist and encourage Hispanic students and parents to improve academic achievement. Learning a new academic language as well as adjusting to a new cultural environment often leaves Hispanic students feeling isolated and disparaged.
In this feature we meet Kenneth Rivera and Orianna Aristizabel two strong Hispanic students who have benefited from these programs. Kenneth Rivera is a junior at Lake Howell High School enrolled in honors courses. He attended the Youth Leadership Conference which one of the programs sponsored by the ESOL department of Seminole County Public Schools. The conference brings together students from different schools and different cultural/language backgrounds to receive training and encouragement to step into leadership roles in their schools.
Orianna Aristizabel also attended the Youth Leadership conference. Even though she has been in the United States for only a year and a half Orianna has a 4.1 grade point average in honors classes and is eager to join the International Baccalaureate program offered at Seminole High School.
Minnie Cardona is Coordinator of the ESOL and World Languages Department for Seminole County public schools. She directs programs to support students and their families as they adapt to academic life. These programs supported by federal and state grants as well as money from the school budget, include the Family Immigrant Connection Center in Lake Mary, summer programs and training for ESOL teachers to better serve the growing Hispanic student population. Ms. Cardona says great teachers and tireless volunteers have raised the achievement scores for Hispanics and helped lower the dropout rate in Seminole County.
Extended Interview & Pictures
extended interview (length 08:09)
extended interview (length 10:40)
extended interview (length 07:06)