Straight Talk by Baker Kurrus, July 17, 2015

 “Esperanza. ”  Please say it out loud.  Esperanza is the beautiful word for hope in Spanish.  If you don’t speak Spanish, the word is pronounced as it is written, and you should say it out loud.  It has a melodic ring to it. 

This morning I went to Mabelvale Elementary School to see the ending celebration of Camp Can Do.  The Camp was for about 210 English language learners.  LRSD has 2,707 students who are classified as English language learners (“ELL”).  About 9 out of every 10 of those students speak Spanish.  The children at the camp had a lot of fun, but they also studied hard.  They had breakfast first, and then did some “dancing” as they went to class.   They studied science, biology and other subjects.  They focused on reading.  The students were tested when camp started, and tested at the end of camp.  Many of the students had strong growth in literacy. 

We had similar camps for ELL and non-ELL students at several other schools.  These camps give our students safe and secure places where they can have fun, eat a good breakfast and lunch, and grow academically.  We need more of these opportunities, and more opportunities for systemic early childhood academic experiences.  The kids are like sponges, and we have great professionals who can fill them at an early age with the skills they need to be successful.  It seems harder to catch up than it is to keep up.

I met a number of parents at Camp Can Do.  It was a pleasure to see them.    They were there for their kids.  So was LRSD.  Bigtime.  We had experienced teachers, great leadership, energetic high school volunteers, good cooks, and other support staff.  The camp was a success by almost any measure.

As I was leaving I shook hands with a man in a plaid blue shirt.  He was a parent who was there to watch his child in the program, and I believe he appreciated the fact that I was also there.   My Spanish is not good, and I am not sure if my English was fully understood.  But we smiled, and I looked in his eyes.   It was there, and we connected.

Esperanza!   Say it louder this time. 


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