LUBBOCK, Texas — Frenship Independent School District offers a dual language that is helping hundreds of students.
Senon Cruz, the district’s bilingual ESL Director, said the program started 11 years ago with only 20 students. Today, the district serves over 200 families. He said he was able to relate to students and has a passion for what he does because he is a native Spanish speaker.
“It was difficult, it was difficult not to be able to understand somebody who is up in front of the classroom and you know nothing,” he said, “You know you’re trying to make any connections on what they’re trying to say based on your prior knowledge and it wasn’t there because there wasn’t any support.”
Cruz said the program utilizes the Gomez and Gomez method which works by allowing students to refine their Spanish so they can learn English. He said the purpose of the program is for students to attain biliteracy by their senior year when they graduate.
“Research shows that if you strengthen that first language that native language then you’re more capable of learning that second language,” he said.
Maria Cruz, a parent and bilingual assistant at Willowbend Elementary is from Mexico and says she started helping the school because of her two children.
She said the program is important because not all students have parents who speak English at home and that her students work very hard to learn both languages.
“It’s a great blessing that we have this program we have here because it’s a great help to our student and the growth of the family as well,” she said.
She also said the program incorporates Hispanic Heritage history which she appreciates as a parent.
“For me as a mother it’s important my kids learn their Hispanic heritage because for me it explains, ‘Who am I?’, ‘Where do I come from?,” she said, “I try to instill into my kids, where they come from, who their ancestors were, what happened, all those details, so they know who they are.”