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Through Their Lens: ELL program at Capitol View Elementary helping students excel

For some students, succeeding in the classroom hinges on the “English Language Learners” program taught in schools.

DES MOINES, Iowa — More than 100 languages are spoken in homes that make up Des Moines Public Schools.

For some students, succeeding in the classroom hinges on the “English Language Learners” program taught in schools. At Capitol View Elementary, almost half of the students rely on ELL learning.

For ELL teacher Nora Krieger, communication is the foundation her work stands on.

“I see 50 to 60 students personally,” she said.

Whether it’s visual or speaking a language other than English, it’s Krieger who bridges the gap for students at Capitol View. She’s one of a handful of ELL teachers here and 160 in Des Moines Public Schools.

“Most of our day is co-teaching so we are in the classroom with the grade-level teacher and we are giving our ELL instruction during their reading content time,” said Krieger.

“About 80 percent of the ELL students speak Spanish, but then we also have Somali, Burmese, Chinese, Nepal, Vietnamese, and Arabic. Almost half of our population gets ell services,” said Noemi Mendez, Vice Principal at Capitol View.

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She knows without teachers like Krieger, who is the rotary club teacher of the year, students who aren’t fluent in English would have a harder time succeeding.

“You can have students who actually have strong language skills in their first language and will do pretty awesome in the classroom with the support of course and scaffolding,” said Mendez.

Being where she is now is Krieger’s purpose and her work is a tribute to her family’s story.

“My grandpa when he went to school, only knew two words of English because his native language was Czech,” she said. “In my home community, the Czech language has kind of been lost and I want to be an advocate for students to be bilingual and to continue to embrace their native language as well as English.”

Krieger wants that for all ELL students districtwide – that’s more than 68-hundred kids and growing.

“We need to teach all the students that walk in our classroom. It doesn’t matter where they come from and what language they speak at home, they deserve an education,” said Krieger.

Her motivation is as simple as that. They deserve an education.

“We love them and we’re so happy they’re at Capitol View,” said Krieger.

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