Temple’s 2019 Teacher Exchange Program with Dept. of State Grant Visited Esperanza Academy Charter School
Esperanza Academy Charter School (EACS) welcomed university-level, English-language educators from 24 different countries for an exclusive day of professional development. This 2019 Teacher Exchange Program: Developing 21ST Century Skills for Globalizing ESL Classrooms is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by FHI 360, a non-profit human development organization.
EACS middle school teacher Erika Weber is an English Language Specialist for the Department of State, and an alumna of their English Language Fellow Program. Temple University’s Intensive English Language Program reached out to Weber to collaborate on the 2019 Teacher Exchange Program grant proposal, and she suggested Esperanza be included in it for providing language access to Latino/a immigrants and newcomers, which illustrates the democratic values of the U.S. Temple is now the only university in the U.S. to receive the grant for 2019, and the first Philadelphia-based university ever to receive it.
“I wanted the participants to come to Esperanza because of the amazing work that we do here,” Weber said. “At Esperanza we have an EL Sheltered Program for English, math, and social studies where we [the teachers] work as a team to help our kids go as far as they can.”
According to Weber all students in the program are immigrants and Spanish speakers when they arrive in the US.
“It’s amazing to see them coming in sixth grade where they were scared to speak in English and leave at eighth grade almost fluent. They are proud of themselves, and we know it’s helping to give them better economic opportunities in the future so they can be competitive outside of school,” Weber noted. “We want them to go to college, we want them to be successful, and they need strong academic English in order to do this.”
The visiting educators observed several high school classes, were interviewed by students, participated in a reflective workshop with Esperanza Academy teachers, and toured Esperanza College of Eastern University – the first Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in the state of Pennsylvania.
“The exchange is amazing; it’s opening up a new relationship with Esperanza and Temple University, it’s connecting our teachers with highly qualified educational leaders from other countries, and our kids are having access to different cultures.”