KCPS expands program for Spanish-speaking adults

Posted at 5:40 PM, May 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-28 20:34:45-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There's a new program within the Kansas City School District that focuses on teaching adults instead of children.

Within KCPS, 27 percent of the students are English language learners, which the district said is the highest percentage in Missouri. 

"I understand the struggles and the challenges immigrant students go through," Dr. Luis Cordoba, the chief of student support services at KCPS said. 

Cordoba also wants to see the parents of those children get ahead. 

Which is why KCPS and the Mexican consulate have partnered up for the "Plaza Comunitaria" program.

"Many of our parents left Mexico without completing their elementary education without completing their high school education so the Mexican government said, 'We want to provide you with the education resources online,'" Cordoba said.

The program provides ESL and other classes for Spanish-speaking adults who have ties to KCPS.

What started as a pilot program at James Elementary School has expanded to Northeast Middle School and East High School. 

They're now focusing on enrollment. 

"It's difficult because of our parents who don't want to come out, don't want to be seen — they're undocumented," Cordoba said.

That's where Eva Santiago comes in. The former KCPD officer is the program's coordinator.

She works to cultivate and foster relationships with those parents while teaching some of the classes.

"They're working two to three jobs — single-parent homes — so when they have the opportunity, they do. I have students who will work a 10-hour day and then right after come to my English class, they're visibly exhausted," Santiago said.

But she knows that hard work will pay off in the end for both parents and their children. 

"We want to see kids succeed in life, especially individuals who can't speak the language," Cordoba said.

You can find more on the program and how to sign up here.