Ensley teacher giving children opportunities with English second-language program

Ensley teacher giving children opportunities with English second-language program

In February and March, WEAR, along with Hill-Kelly Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram, are 'Paying it Forward to Education'.

This week, we introduce you to a teacher who teaches children English as a second language.

Regina Smolenski teaches kindergarten and third grade at Ensley Elementary. She teaches students like Nicole Antonio Jimenez.

Jimenez's family moved to Pensacola from Mexico nine years ago. When she entered kindergarten at Ensley Elementary, she spoke very little English.

Now she is learning more and more every day. She spoke perfectly and in English, "I'm Nicole, I'm six years old."

There are around 600 children just like her in Escambia County. That's why Ensley Elementary has an English program.

Smolenski said, "When they come here from another country or their parents speak another language at home, that's what they are used to speaking."

She said children enter her classroom and mostly speaking Spanish, Vietnamese and Arabic, but she sees all languages. She said she's amazed by how quickly they learn English.

"I get goosebumps, it's absolutely amazing. When you get something and that lightbulb goes off, that makes me feel really great," said Smolenski.

It's difficult at times to explain concepts in English so she wanted hands-on materials to help them learn, but they are pricey.

Hill-Kelly Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram stepped up to fill the gap and donated $500 to help her buy learning kits for the kids.

The kits have pictures and teach them to rhyme. It allows them to see and hold the object and see the name of the object at the same time.

Now the students are now learning English on a whole new level.

Smolenski said, "They have symbols of certain words, they can associate that they are using and do the activity. "

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