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The ELLs of Lamar Elementary

A storybook by Etienne Ramirez-Gonzalez
Who They Really Are

Demographics cannot give us a complete picture.

The ELLs are predominantly Mexican American, but their experiences are diverse.

There simply is no blanket definition for them - but we can explore the goals they share...

and the resources they have to achieve those goals.


The ELLs of Lamar Elementary are Pre-Kindergarten to sixth grade students.

The ELLs in bilingual education and English Language Learning programs make up 14.9% of the school population. 

The majority of the students in school are Hispanic - 221 students, or 30.6% of the students.

15.6% of the school population are limited English proficiency students.

Source - The Texas Tribune

Who are the ELLs?

Where they Live and How

Transportation and Schedule

A student has many forms of transportation. They can simply walk to school, take a school bus, take a VIA bus, or rent a bicycle.

School begins at 8:00 in the morning, so they don't have a lot of time to get ready. School ends at 3:15 PM, but there are after school programs that allow students to stay until 6:00 PM. Students get 2-3 recesses a day.

Of course, the kids aren't always on campus. Often times, they're out and about on field trips to nearby attractions - the school takes care of transportation for them, too.


Many ELLs live very close to school , either in apartment homes or in their own houses. At home, many students help out with washing clothes and cooking. 

As I walked through the neighborhood, I noticed many of the kids played outside with friends - usually a friendly game of soccer, all in Spanish, of course.

Community is tight-knit - if a parent or student wants to talk to a teacher, it's easy for the teacher to simply walk or drive to their home.

Parent Involvement

The parents of ELLs are probably the most involved parents I have ever witnessed.

The parents at Lamar eat lunch with their children. They can bring treats for the class when their kid has a birthday. They can and do volunteer to help in classes as teacher assistants or as teachers themselves.

In return, the school offers web-based services so that parents can stay in contact with the school and form an online PTA.

They also offer workshops and classes designed to help parents improve their kid's dual language education from home.

The Parents of the ELLs

Parents also work with their kids to renovate the community. They help their kids paint murals, tend the school garden, and keep the school alive.

"Oct. 5 - Today I taught Fabiana. She brought her three children - Melissa, Marco, and Jorge. Since she was having trouble with 'Who is/Who are'. we decided to do a lesson on the family. I put it together with 'old, older, oldest' and 'young, younger, youngest' so that she could present her children to other people..."

Entries from my Journal on teaching Adult ELLs

Oct. 12 - "Today I taught Maricruz. We reviewed the "when I was" through another story and reviewed the comparisons of a lot and a little. I clarified that many and few are used for countable things, like people or eggs, while a lot and a little are used for the uncountable... After that, she told me a story (in Spanish, then English) about meeting a friend at the store, which I used to gather more material for lessons... She told me about how she got out of the hospital and of how she was able to complain to her landlord about a dog in English. She was very proud - so am I."

Parents as ELLs

At the Lamar Elementary Community, the Parents of ELLs, often ELLs themselves with limited education, often lack the knowledge and resources needed to help their children with homework and English.

Lamar helps the parents by providing Adult Education Programs (AELs). They are free of charge and geared towards economically disadvantaged families and English Language Learners. Furthermore, a few of the programs are geared toward giving parents the tools to become community leaders, school partners, and even teachers themselves.

I had the opportunity to volunteer as an English teacher for the Adult ELL program. The journal entries to the left show a taste of my experience in the classroom with the parents.

The point is, these parents are not lazy. They care about their children. They care so much that they are willing to learn English and become students the same way their kids have become learners.