Troy Schools build foreign language programs

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Troy City Schools are expanding their foreign language programs into the middle school.

The board on Thursday approved three new hires for the district, including Spanish teachers for the middle school and high school.

The hires took place during a called board meeting and included Christy Nicole Jones, Spanish teacher for Charles Henderson Middle School; Janette Salmon, Spanish teacher for Charles Henderson High School; and Douglas Branson, seventh- and eighth-grade math teacher for CHMS.

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Salmon replaces Pamela Merkel, who retired in May.

Lee Hicks, superintendent, said the decision to offer an introduction to Spanish course at the middle school was prompted by parent feedback.

“We’re listening to parents who say they wanted a true, challenging course for students at the middle school level,” he said. “Any time you study a foreign language, it is challenging.”

When the district was forced to move two career-tech teachers and their courses to the high school to meet state requirements, the opportunity to expand the course offerings opened up.

“Students who used to take keyboarding or career tech in middle school will now take that in ninth grade,” Hicks said. “Now our mid-tier and advanced students will have an opportunity to take an introduction to Spanish course.”

The course is considered a Foundation unit, which means it is funded through state subsidies and not by local funds, Hicks said. Jones is a graduate of Charles Henderson High School who earned a college degree in Spanish. She will pursue her teaching certificate, Hicks said.

Salmon has been teaching Spanish at Troy University.

Hicks said the expanded Spanish course offerings are the first step in the district’s efforts to broaden the foreign language curriculum, which previously included four years of on-site high school instruction. “With Mrs. Merkel, we had a fantastic teacher,” he said. “Now, we have two teachers who will be fantastic and we’re looking at opportunities to expand the program, including considering partnering with Troy University to have dual enrollment for Spanish 101 and Spanish 102.”

Hicks said the district also seeks to offer Mandarin Chinese courses through partnership with the Confucius Institute at Troy University and other languages via video and distance learning programs.