EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 15, 2014

Patrick announces grants during visit

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.

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