Almond-Bancroft School District received a grant from the University of
Wisconsin - Stevens Point for the creation of the English Language Learner
Lisa Vann, a 2007 graduate of UWSP and the
ELL Coordinator at the Almond-Bancroft High School, had the idea to create this
“Our English Language Learner Program was
created to address the needs of our diverse population of Spanish speakers.
Approximately 23 percent of our population has been Hispanic,” Vann said. “The
program helps teachers differentiate instruction through resources in the ESL
department, assists with translations to and from home, and allows for
interventions aligning with RTI and the Common Core to take place in the
The purpose of the ELL Program is to
provide instruction in English, as well as academic support to students who
have difficulty reading, writing, speaking, listening to and comprehending
English. It was created to enable them to become successful not only in a
traditional classroom setting, but the overall school environment and the
Growing up, Spanish was the primary
language in Vann’s household, so she knows how most of these students feel.
“My mother is from Seville, Spain, so I
know what it is like to be an ESL student and how crucial it is to have the
right resources in order to succeed academically. Technology bridges the gap
for all learners, so I knew that an effective program would increase the
communication between home and school. By teaching the Spanish families English
and the English-speaking teachers Spanish, we have removed the barriers of
communication and opened the doors for more frequent and effective
collaboration between families and faculty,” Vann said.
Most of the Almond-Bancroft school
district’s families speak Spanish, so the ELL Program, with its online literacy
labs, will help to enhance learning of the English language. The labs will go
over core subjects such as math, English, social studies and science.
Vann’s great idea made her the seventh
person to receive the Oscar W. Neale Fellowship, which includes a $10,000
reward. The Neale Fellowship honors Oscar W. Neale and is awarded to
professional development projects that involve UWSP and other local schools.
“Oscar W. Neale spent his life serving and
educating underfunded populations in rural areas with limited resources. His
legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of over 300 students having access
to a math and language literacy lab for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
High school students will visit the UW-Stevens Point campus to hopefully
reciprocate and pay forward the gift they received thanks to the Oscar W. Neale
family’s generous gift,” Vann said.
Patricia Shaw, the associate dean and
department head of the UWSP School of Education, likes having the ability to
award scholarships, this fellowship in particular.
“It is rewarding to have a former student
be the recipient of such a generous award, knowing her passion for teaching and
the deep compassion she has for her students. I am very proud of Lisa and of
the quality education she received at the UWSP School of Education and the UWSP
Foreign Language Department,” Shaw said.
“As a 2007 graduate of Stevens Point, I
knew where to find the best team of future educators who would help our school
with interventions in literacy because I also had the same educational
background with highly esteemed faculty from UW-Stevens Point,” Vann said.
The ELL Program also includes a partnership
with students at UWSP majoring in education so that they can incorporate these
teaching strategies into their curriculum for when they begin teaching in
“It is my belief that our students will
gain invaluable ‘real life’ experiences working with the A-B students in this
program. These experiences will, in turn, be valuable when they become
teachers,” Shaw said.
Vann loves her job as a teacher and enjoys
working with her students every day.
“I love waking up in the morning and realizing that I
have the opportunity to pay forward what my mother and father instilled in me
years ago, a love for lifelong learning, while sharing a culture that has
nurtured every aspect of who I am today. I adore the smiles on the faces of my
students when they reach the ‘I got it!’ moments of a difficult lesson. Rewards
also come from knowing I am helping someone to change a life for the better,”