At a Glance
The identified English as a Second Language (ESL) career and technical students at Chester County Technical College High School – Pennocks Bridge are supported from the time they make application through to graduation through structured support activities. The 60-80 students that are served annually are completers of their Career and Technical Education (CTE) program because of the supportive school environment and extensive services that are afforded to them.
The ESL program at Pennocks Bridge came to fruition to support a growing Spanish speaking population in the southwestern region of Chester County. In 2017 Carl D. Perkins funding was used to secure two bilingual staff members to serve up to 80 students per year. This includes students who progress from intensive support to monitoring support. Support services include working directly with the ESL students as well as the career and technical teachers to provide structured activities to ensure student success. While most support services are push-in type service whereby the ESL teachers work within the CTE classrooms and labs, they also maintain a learning lab where students may go to receive support services.
ESL students typically chose a career and technical program where they feel most comfortable, very often where more than one ESL student is enrolled. The goal with all ESL students is to get them adjusted to a CTE classroom and to support them as they grow into the curriculum. The Pennocks Bridge staff are very supportive and welcoming of ESL students and welcome the assistance of the ESL staff.
Beginning in the Fall of 2021, an ESL support staff member conducted day sessions at three of the six sending school districts where parents and students of ESL students could come and hear about the programs and activities available through TCHS Pennocks Bridge. This activity was followed up by utilizing the Latino Club students on campus to conduct tours of the campus. The Latino Club students are bilingual and could answer student questions. This recruitment activity proved to be highly successful. The Latino Club is available to all students but is designed to meet the needs of Spanish speaking students and boasts an excellent track record for student participation. The activities assist students with socializing with other students, relate to the student’s culture, and facilitate student tours to prospective students.
Once students are enrolled at TCHS Pennocks Bridge the work begins for the ESL support staff. They gather ESL related data of the students that is used to develop a successful model for acclimating the students to the TCHS campus. Reading scores and other academic and supportive documentation is gathered. They meet with the CTE instructors and provide tips on preparing for instructional delivery. Assignments are modified accordingly. They translate words, create videos and QR codes that students can scan to watch the videos using one on one computers. They also create classroom displays and bulletin boards.
Other successful activities that create a warm welcoming school environment includes bulletin boards throughout the school with information in English and Spanish. In the early childhood education classroom items throughout the lab are labeled in Spanish. The ESL students who are enrolled in this program developed a children’s reading area with books that are in Spanish. The students and instructor support each other and work on learning both English and Spanish translations.
There have been many positive impacts of the ESL program. One is how the ESL staff not only support the students, but they are providing resources to the student’s families, thus they are integral to the community. Many of the families rely on the ESL staff to assist them with identifying resources outside of the school environment. Both ESL staff members are bilingual and one of the staff members was an ESL student herself when she came to this country, thus the students can relate to the support staff and vice versa.
An unexpected and rewarding outgrowth has been the creations of the Garage Youth Center. The Garage Youth Center is a place for middle school and High School students that offers academic support after school. They have an extension of different programs that support all students in two locations, Kennett Square, and their newest location Avondale. There is also an extended program at Oxford, with the only difference is that the location of the program is at Penns Grove Middle School. https://www.garageyouthcenter.org/
Above all, the value of the ESL program is evident in the data showing how the program has increased not only the recruitment of this group of students but how the program has supported the students to complete their CTE programs ( ESL DATA).
Chester County Technical College High School, Pennocks Bridge