Native Tongue – Lengua Nativa
Jefferson High School is a North Portland public school with a lot more to offer than just Championship games and hallway gossip. Aside from their Middle College program in partnership with PCC and their esteemed dance company the “Jefferson Dancers”, it is one of 5 high schools in the Portland metro area that works with SEI (Self Enhancement Inc.) on site. “SEI is (a) comprehensive, one-stop resource for youth and families, primarily African Americans and others living in poverty or seeking culturally responsive services” They’ve been providing their expansive services to these communities for over 25 years.
A few years ago, my brother and I met a woman who was teaching an after-hours ESL class for native Spanish speakers at Jefferson HS. She was leaving the school for another job opportunity, and that’s where Adrian and I stepped in. We met with Raul, a coordinator with SEI and volunteered to formulate a curriculum in order to continue to keep this service afloat. Two nights a week, for two hours, our students study and exercise their language skills with us.
After 2 months of word of mouth promotion, our enrollment had tripled. We have an excellent retention rate with a strong follow-through from our students, the majority who have been with us for 2 years.
Our mission is to expand. We would like to see our program become accessible to more schools and communities who would benefit from a service such as Native Tongue.