As Poudre School District's coordinator of programs and services for English Language Learners in Fort Collins, Colorado, I believe that staff development for regular education teachers is critical if ELL students are to be successsful in our schools. Therefore, I wrote the "Walk a Mile in their Shoes" program which is a summer staff development program for both teachers and paraprofessionals. This three week long program has been very successful collaborating with Escuela Mexicana, an excellent Spanish Immersion School in Guanajuato, GTO, Mexico. I bring a group of approximately 20 educators every June, and our experience with the staff at Escuela Mexicana has been extremely positive. The school's director, Torsten Rufer, is amasing at organizing the many details necessary to ensure that all of my participants have a wonderful experience in their home stay, their classes, and on the excursions. The school's owner, Hayde Lopez Rodriguez, is a charming hostess and offers a professional yet casual environment in her school, where everyone always feels comfortable and welcome, yet challenged to work hard to improve their Spanish. Guanajuato is the perfect setting for accomplishing this staff development. Teachers are comfortable, yet uncomfortable.... and they return to their jobs with entirely new eyes and hearts in terms of the efforts they make to help their ELL students in their classes. I highly recommend Escuela Mexicana to school districts who realize the need to equip teachers with more skills and a heart to relate to diverse students who are not yet proficient English speakers. Escuela Mexicana will ensure that their experience in Mexico is one that will impact their classroom practice in many powerful ways.
Diane Caitlin, Poudre School District, Fort Collins, CO