The Times West Virginian

Local News

November 17, 2013

County schools celebrate International Education Week

FAIRMONT — Last week, Marion County Schools celebrated International Education Week.

Marion County has 19 students in its English as a Second Language (ESL) program, ranging in age from kindergarten to seniors in high school.

Erin Gripper, one of two ESL teachers working in Marion County schools, helped organize International Education Week events this year.

“It’s a nationwide celebration to educate students about the cultures that are around them, and prepare them for a global economy,” Gripper said.

As a part of International Education Week, Gripper has been working with Marion County ESL students, helping them create presentations for their classmates.

“I’ve tried my best this week to give the students an opportunity to share, and be proud of where they’re from,” Gripper said.

On Wednesday, two ESL students, Gary and Lucy Chen, gave a presentation on China for their classmates at West Fairmont Middle School. Gary and Lucy are cousins. Their families are from Fuzhou, in the southern part of China, and they run the Grand China Buffet at the Middletown Mall.

Gary has been in the United States since he was 3, while Lucy’s family moved to the United States only three or four years ago.

The ESL program in Marion County works within the teacher’s current curriculum, acting as instructional support for the students.

“So they still go to all of their classes, like science, social studies and English,” Gripper said. “But if they’re reading a story, we’ll help them learn English within that story.”

Gary worked on a poster based on a story he read, while Lucy received help with her science fair project.

“I wanted to see if water ever goes bad,” Lucy said. “It doesn’t.”

Now that Lucy and Gary have had a few years to work on their English, they sometimes have to help their parents.

“I have to explain the things they have to sign,” Lucy said. Forms, such as permission slips, can have technical or complex language their parents may not have learned through their work at the restaurant.

As they have come from a household that primarily speaks Chinese at home, learning English can sometimes be difficult for Lucy and Gary.

Gripper said that it takes time for any ESL student to learn the language.

“In Marion County, we have some students who come very young, kindergarten or first grade, and they learn to read with their peers, so they have that advantage,” Gripper said. “But it takes about seven years for a student immersed in the language at public school to be considered fluent in a second language. So that’s quite a long time.”

But the ESL students are very successful, Gripper said. At her teacher’s request, last year Lucy did a presentation to teach her classmates all about China.

“I did the Chinese New Year, what we do in class in China, how we live and what we eat,” Lucy said.

Wednesday at West Fairmont Middle School, Lucy and Gary got the chance to share their cultural heritage with their classmates again. Gripper also brought along a Chinese student from Fairmont State University named Anniwaer Niji’ati. Niji’ati is from western China in Xinjiang province.

Niji’ati taught students how to say “hello” and “goodbye” in Chinese, and also let students try writing the words on the board using Chinese characters. Lucy gave a presentation on Chinese clothing and money, and also told her classmates about the Chinese New Year. Gary told his classmates more information about the holiday, and also helped a friend try to write Chinese characters.

On Friday, Gripper led additional presentations by FSU students from Colombia, Spain and Italy at West Fairmont Middle, Fairmont Senior and North Marion high schools.

“I think it’s important for this area because they don’t have a lot of exposure to other cultures, when a lot of times there are students right in their own classes from China, Korea or Vietnam,” Gripper said.

Marion County’s 19 international students are primarily from China, but students also speak Spanish, Vietnamese, French and Korean.

Gripper said that her ESL students are inspiring.

“The challenges that they face on a daily basis — looking different, having an accent, language, culture — it’s amazing,” Gripper said. “I look at them, and they inspire me.”

Being an ESL teacher also requires a lot of flexibility from Gripper.

“Some days, I’ll have a kindergartener learning phonics, and then I’ll have students working on their senior research projects,” Gripper said. “I’ve done it for five years, so I’ve become accustomed to it, but it can be a challenge.”

Gripper said she hopes students learn something from International Education Week.

“It’s important for American students to be aware of all of the cultures that are represented within their schools and in their community, and to appreciate that, because our world is getting smaller every day,” Gripper said.

Email Colleen S. Good at cgood@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Gayle Manchin: Issue of Common Core Standards has been politicized

    The state didn’t do a very good job of “telling the story” of Common Core Standards, state school board president Gayle Manchin said Monday morning, which opened the door for an onslaught of public and administrative criticism of something few understand.

    July 28, 2014

  • Purple Heart Memorial fundraising continues

     Despite three years of fundraising, a memorial remains unfinished.
    The Purple Heart Memorial was planned three years ago. It is part of the Vietnam Memorial at the Wave Tec Park and was planned to honor all of those who were wounded or killed in action in any war.
    Danny Greene has been working to complete the memorial since the project began. He is a member of the local Purple Heart Chapter.

    July 28, 2014

  • End of Fairview water project on tap

    Officials say the Fairview water line extension project is on track to meet the goal of making water available to all new customers by the end of this week.
    Fairview Mayor Arley Simmons said workers have recently been busy pulling samples and flushing the lines in order to get new customers hooked up for water service.
    “It should have been done a year ago,” he said of the project.
    However, the end of the endeavor is now nearing completion. The hope has been to have everybody on line before this month is over, Simmons said.

    July 28, 2014

  • Barbara Yanero.jpg Like a Springsteen song

     Barbara Yanero grew up in Monongah, on Shaver Street. The street has a long history. For quite some time, Polish and Italian immigrants lived on that street.
    Yanero’s family started living there with her great-grandparents, who moved there around 1927. Later, her great-grandfather made a house for her grandmother and grandfather out of a barn that was already on the property.
    “He was an amazing human being,” Yanero said. “And my mom and dad ended up living there as well, and now me.”
    In Monongah, the neighbors formed a tight-knit group.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local water project nearing completion

    Officials say the Fairview water line extension project is on track to meet the goal of making water available to all new customers by the end of this week.

    July 27, 2014

  • Fundraising continues for local military memorial

    Despite three years of fundraising, Marion County's Purple Heart Memorial remains unfinished.

    July 27, 2014

  • Therapy Riding 1 SS - CB.jpg Horses at On Eagles’ Wings help change lives for better: VIDEO AND PHOTOS

    Out at the end of a long gravel drive off Opekiska Ridge Road, nestled under the shade of the forest and the sun of the West Virginia hills, rests the green and gold pastures of On Eagles’ Wings Therapeutic Horsemanship Center.
    There are horses there — whinnying out of their stall windows, munching in the paddock and, most importantly, helping people with disabilities gain strength and independence in the riding ring.

    July 27, 2014 9 Photos

  • Capito maintains edge in fundraising

    Republican candidate Shelley Moore Capito still leads Democratic candidate Natalie Tennant in fundraising efforts for election to the U.S. Senate seat.
    Current U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s announced his intention to retire from the Senate in January 2013.
    Capito announced her intention to run for the seat in November 2012, giving her an early start in raising campaign funds. Tennant, currently West Virginia secretary of state, announced her campaign 10 months later, in September 2013.

    July 27, 2014

  • Completion of Korean War Memorial being pushed

    The Korean War Memorial will begin the process of reorganizing and begin to move towards completion faster.
    Marion County Development Office director Charlie Reese was asked by the Marion County Commission to provide a recommendation on how to complete the memorial. Last Wednesday, Reese presented his recommendation during the commission meeting.

    July 27, 2014

  • CRAFTS -TS.jpg Donors thanked at Christmas in July: PHOTOS

    Guests got into the Christmas spirit Saturday at the Marion County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
    The Rotary Club of South Fairmont and the Marion County CVB held a Christmas in July open house at the CVB location on the Gateway Connector to thank donors who have supported the upcoming Celebration of Lights and to sell more displays.

    July 27, 2014 6 Photos

Featured Ads
TWV Video Highlights
NDN Editor's Picks
House Ads