by Katie Teems, NHT AmeriCorps Member
School is out, and many of the kids around Thomas are off to summer camps. Mountain Laurel Learning Cooperative's week-long Spanish Camp started Monday, June 19th at the Thomas Education Center.
Teacher and director of the program Leah Devine teaches Spanish with West Virginia Department of Education's Virtual Schools program. This allows her to reach out to rural schools that aren't able to hire a full time Spanish teacher. Leah organized and directed the camp, which had 14 students attending.
While at camp, Leah said "The students were active participants who used Spanish throughout the week and cooked delicious foods!" Students had the opportunity to dance, sing, make art, and cook dishes from around the Spanish-speaking globe while learning beginner-Spanish vocabulary and grammar in an immersion setting. Many of the students arrived never having spoken a word of Spanish, but all the students left with the ability to follow directions and construct basic sentences in Spanish.
On Tuesday teacher Señora Blanca Scaggs, originally from Venezuela, came from Grafton to teach the children about her home country. She instructed the students various types of Latin dance (with the "hora loca" being the favorite) as well as how to make traditional Venezuelan arepas.
On Friday, students cooked dishes from the week for a big fiesta with all the parents. Parents came to see their children demonstrate the skills they learned from the week through explaining the dishes, their origins, and ingredients en español.
Leah said, "partnering with Mountain Laurel Learning Cooperative made for a successful camp! I appreciate all their support and all the families who prioritized Spanish camp for this kids!"
As a Spanish-speaking AmeriCorps volunteer, I had the privilege of helping Leah teach the children, manage the classroom, and cook dishes. I'm so thankful to Mountain Laurel Learning Cooperative for giving local children the precious opportunity to learn a second language in such a fun setting. I'm also thankful for Leah, who carefully planned all the activities and brought a car-load of food, supplies, and children from Elkins every day with a smile on her face.