LAWRENCE — Gov. Deval Patrick yesterday used an elementary school classroom in the city as a backdrop for announcing the distribution of more than $3 million to support English language instruction and other programs for public school children in the state.
Lawrence will receive $145,000 and Methuen $100,000.
The funding is part of the Gateway Cities Education Agenda.
“All children can learn, all children can flourish. We have to meet them where they’re at,” Patrick said.
Patrick and Mayor Daniel Rivera spent time with students in Debbi Bonilla’s sixth-grade math class at the Parthum School.
“I got the sense that I get when I go to other schools,” Patrick said. “We have teachers who give everything to enrich the lives of their students.”
The grant will help students like Andelson Amador, 13, who arrived from the Dominican Republic eight months ago. Rivera explained the lesson to Andelson in Spanish.
“I was happy that he helped me,” Andelson said. “I can learn and reach my potential and the money can help other students too.”
Kinnon McCall, director of English language learning in Lawrence, said money from the ELL award will also be used in five or six other city schools. Most of the students have lived in the United States between one to three years.
McCall said there are 92 ELL students at the Parthum alone.
She said the ELL program has increased from 25 to 28 percent over the past year. The award will be used to set up a five-week summer program taught by city teachers and aimed for students in fifth through eighth grade.
She said the curriculum will be developed through a partnership with Middlebury Interactive Languages based on such themes as environmental studies, extreme weather, mining, engineering, textiles and fashion. The goals is to help students grow or improve their listening, speaking reading and writing abilities. Students will also tour UMass Lowell.
“It’s extremely important for the city as a whole because we need to make sure our students have the same access to education so they can become successful,” McCall said.
“Lawrence will always have an accent,” Rivera said, referring to Lawrence being called the Immigrant City. “For us to make it better is to keep the streets safe and offer good education.”
In Methuen, School Superintendent Judith Scanlon said the summer program for seventh to 12th graders will focus on health, wellness, science, biology.
“These are real world experiences that they will bring back to the classroom and enhance their English skills,” Scanlon said.
Jane Sigillo, director of the Language Acquisition Department who co-wrote the Methuen grant application with Heidi Perez, supervisor of Language Acquisition, said students will visit labs at a hospital, take part in yoga and learn about nutrition.
“Our plan is for them to go to these places, expose them to different careers so they can start to see there are opportunities out there after high school,” Sigillo said.
She said there are 525 students in kindergarten through 12th grade in Methuen who are English learners.
Joining the governor were Secretary of Education Matthew Malone; Commissioner of elementary and secondary education Mitchell Chester; Superintendent Jeff Riley; State Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, and State Reps. Diana Dizogglio, Frank Moran, Linda Dean Campbell and Marcos Devers.
After leaving the Parthum School, Patrick, Rivera and others toured Everett Mills, 15 Union St., a 525,000 square foot mill building which houses high tech businesses, manufacturers, health and human service agencies.