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 Mi Casa Es Su Casa, Jefferson Spanish Teachers Aim to Make School a Little More Like Home

12/17/2018 8:00 AM

​The classroom is lit by a SMART Board and a few lamps placed in the corner, and 12 teachers are scattered throughout the room.

“¿Hace frío, clase?” asks Carrie Saucedo, Spanish teacher, as she points to a snowflake on the board. A resounding “¡Sí!” comes from the class to confirm that yes, it is getting much colder outside.​

There are no textbooks, no conjugation and no homework (except Netflix). Instead, the class is a continual conversation between peers. This allows teachers to learn just as they did when they were only children, not translating from one language to another, but instead learning to identify things in a new language.

Matt Hotopp and Carrie Saucedo launched the class because of a need they saw in the Jefferson community. Staff were concerned. “We had a lot of dual language students in our classes, and it was a struggle for the students and for the teachers to communicate” Hotopp said.

It is now an official professional development class that teachers may attend to help bridge the communication gap.

There are already hints of change around the building, Saucedo said. “I had one of the teachers in the class today come in and talk to the kids in Spanish. She used some of the words and the phrases ​that we were using. And the kids actually answered. It was awesome. It was just really kind of cool to see that she was trying to use it …. It was really fun to watch those connections start to happen.”

We hope the students will feel a little more at home knowing their teachers are giving an extra effort after all the buses have departed and the parking lot begins to empty.

As a Jefferson teacher myself, I’m so excited to be a part of this process. And believe it or not, Mr. Hotopp taught me when I was a senior at Jefferson. What he has done at the school inspires me to try to make change in my own classroom and beyond!

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