Kansas City-area schools struggle to find Spanish teachers

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Schools in the Kansas City area recognize the importance of language and the current need for Spanish teachers.

Hispanic Heritage Month holds a special place in the heart of Principal Cesar Alvarez.

“I’m a proud Hispanic, a Latino,” Alvarez said.

He speaks Spanish at Frances Willard Elementary, which allows him to connect with Spanish-speaking students in a unique way.

“For me, I know that when you can communicate with a family or a student in their native language, it helps build that relationship, build that trust,” he said.

Like Alvarez, the Olathe School District understands the importance of connecting through language. They offer a bilingual Spanish immersion program.

Starting in kindergarten, students are exposed to the language and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. They learn math, science and social studies in Spanish. Then, at mid-day, they move on to language arts in English.

“We are able to offer courses that expose students to other cultures and also give them the opportunity to learn other languages,” said Mike Flenthrope, Global Languages ​​and ELL Coordinator, “so that they can go out into the world and participate and have more doors open for them, than if they didn’t have that opportunity at all.

Flenthrope said being immersed in other cultures opens up the community around them and builds bridges.

“We have students, especially in middle school and high school, who enjoy listening to music in Spanish and reading authors who only write in Spanish,” Flenthrope said.

But you cannot have class and learn without a teacher. The pool of Spanish instructors is small, so school districts like North Kansas City and Blue Valley recruit year-round.

Kansas City Public Schools and the Shawnee Mission School District lost two Spanish teachers in the district. While Olathe has one part-time position open, KCK Public Schools has three vacancies for Spanish teachers where other staff or replacements are coming forward.

“We need more teachers,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez admits it can be tough and it’s the kids who lose.

If you are interested in applying for a Spanish teaching position, visit your specific school district’s website.

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