Atlantic teacher asks school board to reconsider English Dept change


June 15th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A request by Atlantic English/English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher Jennifer Hartwig to the Board of Education to reconsider her move out of the English Department into a full-time ESL position seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Hartwig presented her case to the Board during their regular meeting, Tuesday night.

Hartwig, who built and designed the District’s English Language Learner (ELL) and ESL program, is the district’s only legally endorsed ESL core sheltered instruction teacher. She’s served a total of six and a-half years in the District and its ESL program. Hartwig says the ESL Department has always viewed her role as permanently part-time. She says when the department came to the board with a request for additional staff, she never thought she would be completely pulled from her High School English position to fill the gap.

She says that’s especially true since the move would effectively take the district “a step back,” by putting the number of ESL endorsed sheltered instruction teachers “back to zero.” She said their understanding was that when they needed more assistance to serve the ELL’s, additional staff would be added, not move her out of the classroom.

Hartwig says the need to add additional staff was to support the district’s ELL plan, which she says mandates sheltered instruction. That means the regular classroom teachers who instruct ELL’s are to be ESL endorsed, so they can provide language instruction that are in-line with current ESL methods. She says adding support staff is key to broadening the base of the program, making it strong and sustainable.

Hartwig presented several options to the board to strengthen the ESL program and ELL community, including the possible hiring of a Chuukese translator to fill the department’s current needs. Hartwig said a Chuukese translator option is $15,000 less expensive to the district, and any extra money could be used to assist sheltered instructors in becoming ESL endorsed and more compliant with the ELL plan.

Superintendent Mike Amstein said the move was an “administrative transfer,” and will not be reversed.