SPARTA, Wis. -- A new program is kicking off in Sparta.
"We're doing an ESL summer school," said Katie Kusilek, volunteer ESL summer school teacher.
Ms. Kusilek is an English as a Second Language teacher at Lawrence Lawson Elementary School in Sparta. But this summer she's teaching English at Lugar de Reunion, the Hispanic resource center.
"I was contacted by volunteers at Lugar de Reunion and we wanted to partner with the Lugar and school and create a summer class for the students," said Kusilek.
"We know that over the summer a lot of them will not speak any langauge but Spanish over the entire summer, and we expect that this will probably effect their learning when they return to school," said Lisa Ochoa, Lugar de Reunion volunteer.
"Sometimes it's a lot of reteaching some of the same skills that they maybe lost or fell back on and getting them used to the school year again," said Kusilek.
So, the hope is that this new summer school class will reinforce language skills learned during the school year and help kids prepare for the return of fall classes.
"It's been going fantastic," said Ochoa. "We have a better turnout than we expected. We thought it would be relatively small, but we do have about half of the elementary-aged ESL kids participating. And I think that's pretty significant."
Which makes all of the effort put into teaching this class the perfect payment for the teacher who is volunteering her time to make a difference in the lives of others.
"There's a need and I love what I do," said Kusilek. "And I love teaching these students. So, anything I can do to help with these students and their families is definitely worth it to me."
"I think it's important to acknowledge that this is a program that is attempting to bridge the gap between the Hispanic community and the local school district," said Ochoa. "Cause language can cause barriers, or does cause barriers, and sometimes little things get over-looked, and this is a way to bridge the gap which we know is really important."
A message the Hispanic resource center will continue to speak as the Latino population continues to grow.