Students, staff give surprise welcome to new educator at the McAllen International Airport
Texas Border Business
McAllen – As part of the school district’s efforts to expose students to a variety of cultures and languages, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA ISD) will be offering Arabic classes through its Dual Language Enrichment Program during the 2019-2020 academic school year. The classes will be possible thanks to a grant from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The Arabic classes will be taught at PSJA Memorial Early College High School in Alamo by Nermeen Aboughoneim, an educator from Egypt. Aboughoneim was surprised with a warm welcome from students and staff when she arrived at the airport on Thursday, Aug. 8.
“I found a great welcome waiting for me at the airport. It was just fascinating, I didn’t expect it,” said the new PSJA Family member. “I am very proud to be a part of the program because it keeps connecting me with people.”
To be selected, PSJA Memorial ECHS participated in a nationwide competition to host a Teachers of Critical Language Program (TCLP) teacher and was one of only 28 schools in the nation awarded.
“We are so excited to offer our students an opportunity to learn a third language that will help them gain a competitive edge in the workforce,” said the PSJA Memorial ECHS Assistant Principal Bobbie Sue Gonzalez.
According to Gonzalez, students interested in participating in these classes can contact their school counselors.
In addition to providing Arabic classes to PSJA ISD students in Alamo, PSJA ISD also offers Mandarin Chinese classes to students in the PSJA Southwest ECHS feeder pattern in South Pharr thanks to three teachers from China hired through the Chinese Guest Teacher Program. The school district hopes to expand this Mandarin Chinese program to more schools during the 2019-2020 school year.
TCLP is designed to increase the study and acquisition of important world languages in U.S. schools. This program enables primary and secondary schools to strengthen their teaching of critical languages by bringing Chinese, Egyptian, and Moroccan teachers to the U.S. to teach their native Arabic and Chinese language for an academic year. Launched in 2006, TCLP has launched or expanded over 203 critical language programs in K-12 schools throughout the United States.
In addition to welcoming native Chinese or Arabic speakers to teach language classes, students, teachers, and community members have the opportunity learn about the TCLP exchange teachers’ home countries, expanding their understanding of the world and preparing them for the global workforce. In return, exchange teachers gain first-hand knowledge of the United States to share with students and fellow teachers in their home countries reaching beyond stereotypes and assisting America’s positioning to effectively do business in the world. Through TCLP, many schools establish lasting bonds with their exchange teachers’ home schools abroad.
“These efforts expand the work we have done for many years ensuring our students have the opportunity to graduate with a Biliteracy Seal on their diploma, effectively speaking, reading and writing Academic English and Spanish,” said Dr. Daniel King, PSJA ISD Superintendent. “For over five years, we have partnered in a similar way with Spain’s Embassy welcoming master and doctoral level teachers from Spain into our classrooms. By incorporating a third language, we continue to increase the academic opportunities provided to our students.”