Fresno State initiative aims to increase amount of bilingual teachers in the Valley

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In the Central Valley, the need for bilingual teachers is high, according to educators with Fresno State.

The university is now taking action to change the education landscape. They're partnering up with Fresno City and Reedley Colleges to mold the teachers of tomorrow.

"Ensenamos en el Valle Central" is a new initiative guiding bilingual Latinx youth down the right path.

"We start working with them in high school, we are going to be doing different activities, during their lower grades in high school then recruiting them to go to the community college," said Reedley College counselor Gema Ortega.

Students will spend two years at community college completing teacher pathway requirements. Then they will transfer to Fresno State, focusing on bilingual teaching and finishing the credential program.

Counselors will guide students from the moment they start until they graduate.

"We have a big number of students that are declared to be elementary school teachers," Ortega said. "In Reedley College, we have about 45 students."

Dr. Patricia Lopez, director of the ensenamos initiative, says bilingual teachers are necessary. They connect with English as a second language students and teach dual immersion classes.

They also create representation in the classroom.

"We do know that there is an impact when they see themselves in their teachers and when their teachers are intentional about that being part of why they chose to come into teaching," she said.

The first group in the program is about 60 strong and will start this fall.
The hope is once students become teachers, they'll go back to elementary schools in their communities to make a difference.
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