New bilingual specialist supports English learners

LT aids students with language barriers in the classroom

Ellie Moran, Reporter

When a passionate member of the local community, Julie Jacobo, found an opening for a position at LT, she applied right away to support students in the classroom. In need of a bilingual specialist, LT gained a new teacher for its English-language learners. 

As the bilingual coordinator, Jacobo works with English learners from all grade levels on a daily basis, most of these being students with Spanish as their first language. The premise of the job is to work with these students to make sure that there are no barriers when it comes to learning. Establishing learning strategies and helping the students’ teachers better fit their needs is a crucial part of her position.

“I know how diverse our community is, and I really wanted to come in and help language learners be successful,” Jacobo said. 

Additionally, Jacobo has the responsibility of being the Hispanic community liaison. Along with language barrier support, part of the job is to help anyone who identifies as Hispanic by making sure that they feel a sense of belonging, Jacobo said. Extended time on assignments and tutoring services are some of the many strategies she helps implement. Emotional connections are also key to helping students become successful.

“The most important [thing] is building relationships with the students so that they know who they can seek out when they need more support,” Jacobo said. 

Language Arts Division Chair Karen Raino leads Jacobo’s department. Raino has worked at LT for over 20 years and introduced Jacobo to the English staff in August. 

“She [Jacobo] is very approachable,” Raino said. “She’s got an incredible personality [and she’s] already made connections with students. She’s been able to help them with all sorts of issues.”

With many students and families to assist, Jacobo tries to work as many people as she can into her schedule each day, she said. Sometimes this may only be five, though it can be up to 15 students depending on the situation. As a new teacher, Jacobo has an eventful year ahead of her. 

“I’m excited for her to make the connections with students and families so that everyone feels a true sense of belonging at LT, even those who have linguistic differences,” Raino said. 

With the new addition to the English department staff, LT can work to better assist students with language barriers, Raino said. The key focus the department prioritizes is the sense of belonging through consistent modifications where needed.