Eagle County Hispanic students help each other
Vail CO, Colorado
EAGLE-VAIL, COLORADO ” Hugo Rodriguez is proud to be taking Advanced Placement Calculus this year at Battle Mountain High School.
Like many Hispanic students at the school, he didn’t know English when he came in as a freshman. Through hard work and a lot of help from his teachers, he learned the language and learned how to help his friends do the same.
Rodriguez is one of 19 students with the newly created Hispanic Mentors program at Battle Mountain. Their mission is to help Hispanic students struggling in school and improve communication with their families, who often speak only Spanish.
“I saw that there were a lot of Hispanic students not getting the support they need. They are sort of separated from the rest of the school,” said Trevor Warburton, a the Battle Mountain math teacher who started the group.
Ever since a mission trip to Chile during college, Warburton said he knew he wanted to teach math to Hispanic students. In Eagle County, he found a school district that was challenged by a high number of Hispanic students who don’t know English.
Near the end of the third trimester last year, he sought out motivated, college-bound Hispanic students who could be a good example for their peers. The group now meets weekly and offers tutoring in both Spanish and English to Hispanic students who are at risk of failing a class.
Most of the mentors in the group have faced similar problems as their students. Cecilia Garcia said she started learning English in sixth grade, and she remembers how difficult learning a language could be while learning things like math in school.
“Some of my students know how to do it, they just don’t understand the language,” Garcia said. “They work just as hard as everyone else, but they’re still not getting it because of English.”
Carla Fierro, a senior, is in charge of hooking up students with mentors. She’s recruited many Anglo students from the National Honor Society to help out, and she likes to see the mingling of cultures.
“That was something I was looking for, seeing Hispanics and Anglos helping out each other, learning about each other,” Fierro said.
The group also is working hard at improving communication between the school and the parents of Hispanic students.
The mentors have been calling parents to set up meetings conducted in Spanish to inform them of things like graduation requirements, school resources, and college options for Hispanic students.
“Only three parents showed up for the first one, but at the last one, over 20 parents showed up,” Fierro said.
Soon, the mentors want to start meeting with Hispanic students who may be at risk of dropping out of school.
Rudy Sosa, a senior at Battle Mountain and a member of the Hispanic Mentor Program, said he once dropped out of school to work. He said he soon realized that he could only move so far up the job ladder without learning English.
“I figured out getting an education was much better than working,” Sosa said.
Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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