In March of 2016, the Elkton School Board approved a recommendation from the district’s enhancement committee to enhance the education of English Language Learners.
The Board and the committee asked themselves the following questions from Georgia State Director of Educator Preparation Dr. David Hill:
- Is this decision in the best interest of our children?
- Is this decision in the best interest of teachers?
- Is this decision in the best interest of parents?
- Is this decision in the best interest of school leaders?
Because the groups were able to answer yes to all of the questions, the school district partnered with South Dakota State University to provide an English Language Learners Endorsement for all interested staff members and opened it up to neighboring school districts, as well.
“We were faced with an unfamiliar responsibility, teaching a growing population of ELL students in the general education classroom,” Elkton Superintendent Brian Jandahl said. “This is an opportunity for the enhancement committee to transform teaching and learning for our ELL population.”
Twenty cohort members from Elkton, two from the Rutland School District and one teacher from SDSU started the endorsement classes first semester last fall. The course’s delivery method is a hybrid model with two face to face class sessions each month in Elkton and two classes per month completed online.
The district is paying for the twelve credits needed from SDSU with staff members successfully completing the endorsement set to receive a $500 bonus this year and a $500 pay raise for the 2017-18 school year. Two additional teachers in Elkton who completed a similar endorsement program will also receive the same pay raise.
Partnering with SDSU and other school districts allowed Elkton to work with more diverse colleagues and constituents.
“In order to get results without formal authority, we realized that we needed to get formal training. We are seeing highly visible results in the form of positive relationship development with our new partners,” Jandahl said.
“We are looking forward to next year as we will be able to fully implement our new methods.”