For many people, English is more than a language—it's a path to opportunities. And that's precisely what teacher Justin Minkel has provided for his Spanish-speaking students at Harvey Jones Elementary School in Springdale. Teaching in a classroom in which English is a second language for the vast majority of students, he has helped them make significant gains in English proficiency, with nearly a third becoming fluent. His strategies include differentiated instruction, looping with students from second to third grade, using hands-on experiences to show the relevance of math concepts, and making literature, social studies and science more meaningful by connecting them to real-world experiences. He has presented these strategies to colleagues throughout the district, has served on committees ranging from math leadership to textbook adoption, and has mentored student teachers from the local university. Achievement scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills indicate that all of Mr. Minkel's students are performing at grade level or above. All this translates into one outstanding educator.
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