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The Student Voice of Prosper High School

Eagle Nation Online

The Student Voice of Prosper High School

Eagle Nation Online

The Student Voice of Prosper High School

Eagle Nation Online

ESL teacher leads emerging bilingual, multilingual students to success through mentorship

Karla Reyes works between campuses to help students excel
Anisha Mandem
Surrounded by flags, and decorations, ESL teacher Karla Reyes prepares to receive a student in her classroom. The ESL program supports students who are learning the English language. “They’re all at all different levels, and some kids are newcomers,” Reyes said. “So, they just moved here, and they have no English background from their home country. Then, we have some students who learned English in their home country, or they’ve been somewhere else in the United States and just are still working on developing their fluency.”

Amidst the flags from all over the world, teacher Karla Reyes prepares to help English-language learners on two campuses – Prosper High and Reynolds Middle School.

Reyes works between the two schools, planning lessons for students, working with them side by side, and motivating them when challenges arise.

“The ESL program supports students who are learning the English language – they’re all at all different levels, and so some kids are newcomers,” Reyes said. “So, they just moved here, and they have no English background from their home country. Then, we have some students who learned English in their home country, or they’ve been somewhere else in the United States and just are still working on developing their fluency.”

Reyes began her career as a teacher after coming back from a study abroad program in Mexico where she got to perfect her Spanish. This led her to become a mentor for one of her first students.

“I didn’t always want to be a teacher, but as soon as I became a teacher, I had just finished studying abroad,” Reyes said. “So, my Spanish was really, really good. The small school district I was in had a newcomer who was Spanish-speaking and needed a lot of help. I ended up being that student’s mentor teacher, and I helped him and his family a ton.”

Mrs. Reyes is amazing. I have been fortunate to work closely with her to plan for my ESL students in US History. Anytime we meet to plan an assignment for our classes, Mrs. Reyes gives us great suggestions about how we can adjust or add to the lesson to meet the needs of our students who are just learning English. Even better, she always volunteers to act on her suggestions and create modified activities for us to use.

— Angela Nelson, U.S History teacher

Becoming a mentor for a student changed Reyes’s perspective in the education field.

“That’s what made me realize, ‘oh, my gosh, I love helping students learn a language,’ ” Reyes said.  “So, I did that in my other district for eight years. Then I came to do that for Prosper because Prosper was growing.”

She has been teaching at PHS for 10 years, where she helps students who speak the more than 62 languages represented in the district.

“Watching them grow in their English knowledge is one of the best things,” Reyes said. “So, when you get a newcomer – that’s if I get them in sixth grade – it’s really cool to watch them grow, and then graduate. Because, I know the hardships that they endured and how hard they had to work to be on the same playing field. But, to see them walk across the stage and to write their college recommendation letters is really special.”

At PHS, 42 languages are spoken across the campus, and the most spoken languages include Spanish, Telugu, Tamil, Korean, and Chinese. Reyes works with about 200 students across the PHS and RMS campuses. 

I had Mrs.Reyes for coffee bean club – a club where you can can meet new people, learn leadership roles and be a positive influence around campus. Mrs. Reyes definitely helped my group a lot, encouraging us to speak our minds and gave advice when we were struggling.

— Athena Pinar, Senior

 “If I’m in a classroom, I’m maybe taking notes, or color coding for students,” Reyes said. “Or, if I’m in algebra, I’m physically taking notes, and then I will make copies for the teachers or scan them and give them to all the students that might need them. Versus, if I’m in a science class, I might be translating words or finding images or pictures to help with the understanding versus English, I might be making sentence stems or pulling vocabulary.”

Reyes works alongside teachers to provide students with the best materials to be successful in their classes.

“So, I do a lot through digital, ” Reyes said. “So, through email, or just checking on kids, or pulling kids to this classroom, and finding resources, tools, accommodating and modifying assignments to make it more feasible for them to understand.”

She creates content in different formats for all subjects in areas of Grades 6-12 to help students expand their understanding and grow their skills in English.

“Every student has such different needs,” Reyes said. “You have to accommodate everything in a specific way for that student, which is what teachers do for all students. But, when you’re working with someone who doesn’t understand the language, you just have to be really creative. So, finding the time to do all of that can be difficult for me, for teachers, but also just making sure you encourage the student to not give up when it gets hard.”

She would be checking on me by sending me a google chat if I need some help from the class, and she even comes to my class to help the assignment to work together in person, which helped me a lot when I was a freshman. She would be giving ideas to get me to the right answers. I really like her. That’s how she cares about her students because I know it’s not only me who gets help by her, so I really appreciate her.

— Rachel Lee, Junior

As she works between teachers and students, Reyes also advocates for language learners and makes time to mentor students and coach teachers on helping students excel.

“During classes, I work more with teachers, or I work with PLCs, in team meetings,” Reyes said. “Then, I can help more teachers because I can only be in one classroom at a time, but if I help the teachers, then they’re helping other students at one time.”

ESL has the most students enrolled in a program in the entire school district with over 3,000 students total. Through the program, not only has Reyes helped students succeed from the beginning to graduation, but she has created relationships with students she said she will cherish forever.

 “Oh, gosh, favorite moments – definitely seeing them walk across the stage for graduation, and giving them a big hug afterward,” Reyes said. “Being presented with these awards is always a highlight because students pick a teacher they want to honor. So, when they get there – you present them with their junior ring, and then they present you with a medal of honor. Those are always really special to me.”

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About the Contributors
Sofia Ayala
Sofia Ayala, Assistant Print Editor
Sofia Ayala is a junior at Prosper High School. This is her third year working for Eagle Nation Online. She currently serves as Assistant Editor for Eagle Nation Times, and served as the Feature editor in the past. Sofia is part of the varsity PHS Talonettes where she enjoys to work together with her team. Outside of school, she enjoys going out on runs, reading, and listening to music.  
Anisha Mandem
Anisha Mandem, Assistant Editor
Anisha is a junior, and this is her third year on ENO. She is currently an Assistant Editor and the Editorial Section Editor. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, she moved to Texas at the end of 2021 and works for the newspaper as a writer and a videographer. She is also the founder and president of the non-profit NeuroNext Foundation, the PHS Model UN team, and is a part of SNHS. Outside of school, she enjoys playing the piano, running, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
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