Breaking barriers


Contributed by Audrey Heaton

Seniors Haley Matlock and Audrey Heaton help kids make ornaments during class. They enjoy being able to do hands-on activities together.

Jeremiah Gray Kindergarten Academy students were recently visited by Spanish teacher Christine Posadas’ Spanish 5 and 6 classes to help students overcome the language barrier they face at school.
For many years, other Spanish teachers, besides Posadas, set up a program for the advanced Spanish classes. The reason why Posadas chose JGKA was because of the large number of Spanish-speaking newcomers. She set up a partnership with the principals at JGKA, Mr. Witt and Mrs. Hansell.
This annual event’s primary focus was to have students work on their speaking skills in a place where it was easier for them to practice.
“This is a non-threatening environment where students can use their language skills and help their community,” Posadas said.
Senior Haley Matlock is one of the many students that has been going over to the kindergarten academy this year, as it is an annual thing that Ms. Posadas does.
“It will help us learn our Spanish better since there is no better way than being thrown into it,” Matlock said.“It will also help (the kindergartners) because they will feel more comfortable speaking a language that they know.”
This project is also significantly helping the high school students. It helps go over basics such as reviewing knowledge the students already know or practicing pronouncing words. It is an opportunity for the students to use their language skills and communicate with native speakers.
Senior Audrey Heaton says that it personally helps develop her skills in Spanish. She has learned how to truly have a conversation with someone in Spanish, even if she doesn’t know the exact words.
It has also helped her with her goal of becoming an elementary school teacher. This opportunity has prepared her for things she might encounter while teaching. For example, having diversity in the classroom and the possibility of studying abroad.
The goal for SHS students is to improve their communication skills and participate in their local community. SHS students are able to practice in real-life situations without feeling a lot of pressure from talking to adults.
Matlock says that her and the other students just want to help with the language barrier that the kindergartners face each day.
She hopes that the kindergartners feel more at ease when the high school students come and help.
“For the kids, it is so much more relaxing because someone understands them,” Matlock said. “They don’t have to think in English while learning something new.”
To have people come and talk to the kindergartners can be a break for them. It relieves the stress and pressure of trying to understand English all day.
This will be beneficial for Matlock in the future. She wants to minor in Spanish in college, so practicing having conversations in Spanish with native speakers will aid her studies later on.
“They can understand their teachers more, and it will help the students feel more involved and connected with the world,” Heaton said.
It is beneficial for the students, all participants, to have a safer place to learn and practice speaking Spanish without being judged.
Due to all of the hard work that the students have done, they have received the PTEF Helping Hands grant to help them pay for some of the supplies that they get for activities they do with the kids. This grant will help JGKA purchase more resources that help with the learning for the kindergartners.


One of the students, Erick, created an ornament for fun with his class. This activity strengthened the bond between the kindergartners and high schoolers. (Contributed by Audrey Heaton)
One of the students named Samantha, shows off her final product. They were visited by Posadas’s Spanish class on Dec. 2. (Contributed by Haley Matlock)