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Bilingual educators in Colorado find support and camaraderie amid influx of migrant students

Hundreds of bilingual Colorado educators gathered for CO-CABE’s annual conference. The increase of migrant students in classrooms was at the forefront of the conversation.
CO-CABE 2024 conference
Posted at 1:12 PM, Feb 25, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-25 19:24:05-05

DENVER — Hundreds of educators from across the state gathered for the Colorado Association of Bilingual Education’s annual conference this weekend. This year, a certain topic was at the forefront: the increase of migrant students in classrooms statewide.

Dr. Carlota Loya Hernandez knows it firsthand.

“That's really important in our communities - as we are able to overcome challenges, we have to continue to help everybody else,”

Dr. Hernandez is a bilingual educator at Escuela Bilingue Pioneer in Lafayette. Her family came to this country when she was a young girl.

“I remember in second grade, when I, my first time in an English [classroom and] the teacher didn't understand me. I was obviously nervous. I didn't know what was going on,” she recalled.

Now as she teaches the next generation of English language learners, she says it comes down to one thing:

“We need support. We need help, and we definitely need to think about how the system can be more conducive to the students that we have in front of us at any given time.”

Let’s take Denver Public Schools for example. The latest report this month shows the number of new-to-country students continues to rise.

Bilingual educators in Colorado find support and camaraderie amid influx of migrant students

They've seen 200 to 250 new students every week since the start of the school year.

But it’s not just a DPS thing – it’s happening statewide.

“Our teachers are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of students that are coming,” said Dr. Cynthia Trinidad-Sheahan, executive director of CO-CABE.

While funding and teacher shortages continue to be a challenge, experts say this is just one way educators can find support and camaraderie as they work to make an impact on new students.

“A day like this is really an opportunity for [attendees] to learn from one another, learn from higher ed, and to network and understand there's resources out there to support them,” said Dr. Trinidad-Sheahan.

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