World Languages students in Upper School Spanish Teachers Robin Begley’s and Kelly Weidenmiller’s Spanish 450 classes recently completed a unit on las comunidades– “communities.” Señora Begley said, “The content of our courses flows from the essential questions of each unit. This particular unit lent itself to defining ourselves as global citizens and how we can better help one another through volunteerism or just being aware of each other’s well-being.”
Heeding this imperative, 26 Spanish 450 students traveled to Wyland Elementary School on Thursday, April 28. Students were welcomed by Dr. Lisa Greenstein, principal of Wyland, who introduced them to the unique culture of the school whose student population is roughly 40 percent Spanish-speaking. Our Rams were then taken to work with the Spanish-speaking students in their assigned kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms where they collaborated with 10 different teachers.
“Our students are craving human contact,” said one Wyland teacher. “They are so proud to speak Spanish, and it means the world to them to have someone understand them in their native language and to have a conversation.”
MICDS students read stories out loud, helped with classroom activities, went outside to enjoy recess with their new friends, played dodgeball, and simply spoke in Spanish with the Wyland students. The MICDS students filled out an evaluation about their experience and this is what they had to say about their time at Wyland School:
“I think that seeing kids that have just immigrated to the United States and can only speak Spanish is challenging for everyone but especially them. Not knowing the common language can feel isolating and having someone there to make you feel comfortable and heard is a wonderful opportunity.” –Paige Morris ’23
“I talked to a few of the girls about their experiences when immigrating to the US and the struggles that they faced. There is definitely a sense of the Hispanic microcosm of a community within the greater STL and it just seems so open-armed. Hearing what these kids have already had to go through though, really opened my eyes to how hard life is in other areas of the world and how we as U.S. citizens are often blinded to those hardships.” –Emma Mills ’23
“It was so rewarding to watch a kid light up as you spoke to them in their preferred language and when they realized you could understand them. The relationships I made at Wyland grew so strong in such a short amount of time because we closed that language barrier.” –Ashley Cooper ’23
Señorita Weidenmiller echoed that sentiment: “We hope that this experience has made our students pause and think about our world, and we hope this will be a springboard for our students to return to Wyland School to continue their relationship with that community, seeing how the power of language can really open up endless opportunities.”
Sra. Begley and Srta. Weidenmiller believe that it is essential to provide experiences for students that allow them to embrace the MICDS mission statement and to live the language. Wyland School gave our students the opportunity to do exactly that.
Wyland School offers after-school programs as well as summer school. If you are interested in finding out more about these opportunities, please contact either Robin Begley at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kelly Weidenmiller at email@example.com.