KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Schools across the Kansas City area recognize the importance of language and the current need for Spanish teachers.

Hispanic Heritage Month holds a special place in Principal Cesar Alvarez’s heart.

“I am a proud Hispanic, a Latino,” Alvarez said.

He speaks Spanish at Frances Willard Elementary, allowing him to connect with Spanish-speaking students in a unique way.

“For me, I know that when can communicate with a family or a student in their native language, it helps build that relationship, build that trust,” he said.

Like Alvarez, the Olathe School District understands the importance of connecting through language. They offer a Spanish Dual-Language Immersion Program.

Starting in Kindergarten, students are exposed to the language and cultures from around the Spanish-speaking world. They learn math, science and social studies in Spanish. Then, halfway through the day they switch to language arts in English.

“We’re able to provide courses that expose students to other cultures and also give them the opportunity to learn other languages, as well,” said Mike Flenthrope, World Language and ELL Coordinator, “so that they can go out into the world and participate and have more doors opened for them, than if they didn’t have that opportunity at all.”

Flenthrope said being immersed in other cultures opens up the community around them and builds bridges. 

“We have students especially in middle school and high school that like to listen to music in Spanish and to read authors who only write in Spanish,” Flenthrope said. 

But you can’t have class and learn without a teacher. The Spanish instructor pool is small, so school districts like North Kansas City and Blue Valley recruit year round. 

Kansas City Public Schools and Shawnee Mission School District are down two Spanish teachers across the district. While Olathe has a part-time position open, KCK Public Schools has three Spanish teacher vacancies where other staff or substitutes are filing in.

“We need more teachers,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez admits it can be challenging, and it’s the kids who lose. 

If you are interested in applying for a Spanish teaching position, visit your specific school district’s website. 

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