A group of over 150 Pleasanton Middle students in the Spanish Immersion program and English Language Development classes recently took part in the first Bilingual Career Fair. Coordinated by teachers Kristine De Vries and Elsa Backers featured nearly a dozen professionals from a variety of fields who have found success and opportunity, in part, because they know more than one language.
“We want students to see the benefit of being bilingual in their education and in their lives and how powerful it is to share their experiences,” explained Pleasanton Middle teacher Kristine De Vries.
Students engaged in small groups with guest speakers from former Facebook and Instagram Human Resources Executive Arnaldo Avalos to NBC Anchor Jessica Aguirre.
“It’s important for them to understand that their skill set they have will be valued in the future. Ultimately there needs to be a line of sight of where you are to where you’re going and how you get there,” said Avalos. “Today was that line of sight.”
Pleasanton Middle School 8th grader Yesenia Labra has participated in the Dual Immersion Program since Kindergarten starting at Valley View Elementary and never realized the true benefit of being bilingual until engaging with guest speakers.
“These people inspired me to go for who I want to be and take advantage of being bilingual. I didn’t know Spanish could help me so much,” said Yesenia Labra. “Hearing how knowing two languages benefited them so much was very inspiring.”
NBC Anchor Jessica Aguirre spent time sharing her story with English Language Development students. As a student herself, Aguirre began school with Spanish as her first language and went on to excel in a career which requires extreme proficiency in English.
“It’s not a disadvantage, it’s an advantage,” said Aguirre. “For them to hear that the reason I got to go to the Olympics and get chosen a lot of times for assignments is that I can do stories in both languages was eye opening.”
Pleasanton Middle School’s grade 6 - 8 Spanish Immersion Program builds on the K-5 Dual Immersion Program at Valley View Elementary and supports PUSD’s vision of fostering resourceful global citizens.