An ongoing series of reports, articles, and news items about the Arlington
Sister City Association's programs and activities, plus news from its Sister Cities

               November 20, 2017
The San Miguel Summer-School Program: Impressions from the Teacher

by Kim Chi Crittenden

As a teacher in Arlington's public schools I am often asked what I do during the summer months when school is not in session. For the past eight years I have spent a major part of my summer teaching English to a group of low-income and disadvantaged youth in San Miguel, El Salvador through a program organized and funded by the San Miguel Committee of the Arlington Sister City Association.

Ms. Kim Chi Crittenden with one of her San Miguel students

The San Miguel summer-school program offers low-income middle and high school students an intensive English-language program designed to develop both speaking ability and leadership skills. The program is also an opportunity for local teachers to learn new instructional skills; to improve their own language skills; and to earn some much needed extra income. The students in the program come from poor families that have little or no income for their children's education. A secondary goal of the project is to provide scholarships for deserving students to continue their studies beyond high school at local post-secondary institutions.

San Miguel youth hard at work learning English

In 2017 the project served 71 students from nine schools. The students studied English every day Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 noon. I served as the lead teacher and had two local teachers assisting me. We also had one former high school participant in the program work with us as a teaching volunteer. Language study included small-group instruction and collaboration using music, songs, and dancing, plus thematic activities related to the interests of the students. The program provided snacks daily, which was also important for these low-income students.

English summer school participants practicing their English skills

Each Friday the successes of the week were celebrated with a pizza party. At the end of the three-week program, the top four students were awarded scholarships. In addition, fifteen top students received complimentary school supplies.

I am proud to have been a part of this program and to have seen it grow and develop over the past eight years. As a teacher, I get great satisfaction seeing my students make real progress even in the few weeks that we have together in San Miguel. As a native of Viet Nam, I also have become proficient in Spanish through studies in Spanish speaking countries, including El Salvador, over the years. And I have made many friends in San Miguel whom I hope to see again in the coming years.

Summer English school students of Ms. Crittenden and an assistant teacher from San Miguel

The San Miguel summer-school program serves poor students who would otherwise have few opportunities for study. In the year ahead, I hope we can find the resources to expand this program and to help many more San Miguel students complete their high school educations and continue on to college.

Kim Chi Crittenden has lived in Arlington since 1982 and has been a teacher at Abingdon Elementary School since 1984.

The Arlington Sister City Association (ASCA) is a nonprofit organization established in 1993. ASCA works to enhance and promote Arlington's international profile and foster productive exchanges in education, commerce, culture, and the arts.