During the May 11 Orangeburg County School Board meeting, Yvonne Mitchell, former teacher of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and Title III Program Coordinator, awarded nine seniors Silver and Bronze South Carolina Seal of Biliteracy Awards.
The SC Seal of Biliteracy advances the state’s commitment to preparing every learner for college- and career-readiness, in an increasingly international community by recognizing students who attain levels of proficiency in English and at least one other world language required in the global workforce.
The Seal of Biliteracy award encourages students to take ownership of their language proficiency growth to better prepare themselves for today’s workforce and to become lifelong language learners.
This is the first year Orangeburg County School District has participated in the SC Seal of Biliteracy program. Initially, Mitchell was not sure if she was ready to take on the initiative. With the encouragement of Dr. Andress Carter-Sims, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, OCSD joined school districts throughout the state in participating.
Mitchell, for Orangeburg to be a part of it, said, “I had to do some research to see how to start it. It was a little daunting for the students at first and for me to be given the responsibility.
“I’m glad I decided to do this, because many of our students qualify, and it is rewarding to see them grow.”
The Silver SC Biliteracy award was given to Lila Aldana Diaz (Edisto High School), Isis Torres Villeda (Edisto High School) and Alena Nikolaeva (Branchville High School). The Bronze SC Biliteracy award was given to Ricardo Flores Alonso (Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School), Jennifer Munoz (Edisto High School), Eduardo Flores Alonso (Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School), Aaron Garcia (Bethune-Bowman High School), Eros Munoz Ybares (Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School) and Alejandra Sanchez Garcia (Edisto High School).
Mitchell, a former ESOL teacher, said it was a joy to see the students take the SC Seal of Biliteracy test.
“I felt a sense of pride knowing five of these students were my former students, two of which were non-English speakers when they moved to Orangeburg. It is a great feeling to see the achievements of these hard-working students,” said Mitchell. “Not only were their families proud, but the students were also proud, excited and felt a sense of accomplishment.”
Dr. Shawn Foster, Orangeburg’s superintendent stated, “Mrs. Mitchell is a passionate advocate for students and families learning English as a second language. We are very proud of Mrs. Mitchell, our ESOL teachers, and, of course, our students and families on this tremendous honor.”
Students who have shown proficiency in English and at least one other language are preparing themselves to be college- and career- ready.
“These students have so much potential for their future and college. I know they will be valuable assets in the work force,” Mitchell said.
In a district with more than 10 languages spoken and over 300 ESOL students, Mitchell stated, “It is an honor to teach and award official biliterate students.”