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Charlotte Bilingual Preschool will train more bilingual teachers with $210k in grants

Charlotte Bilingual Preschool

A pair of grants awarded to the Charlotte Bilingual Preschool will allow the school to train more local, Spanish-speaking immigrants to pursue careers as early childhood educators.

The preschool announced the two grants earlier this week, which include $200,000 from NewSchools Venture Fund and $10,000 from SmartStart of Mecklenburg County.

The funds will be used to pay for a full-time counselor at the preschool who will help Spanish-speaking, immigrant parents with children in the school pursue and enroll in early childhood education classes at Central Piedmont Community College, said Susana Jerez, director of family programs and talent development at the preschool.

The preschool will also use the money to hire some of the adult students as apprentices who can help with preschool programs.

"They will be representing our Black and brown children," Jerez said. "They will be examples to other family members who want to go into the career of education. They will be examples to their children. They will be examples to other dual language learners in other centers."

The money will also be used to help partially fund other positions at the preschool, run focus groups studying the economic mobility challenges faced by the families the preschool serves, and reach future funding opportunities, Jerez said.

The preschool's principal, Marta Duran, said the grants will help fill a big need for dual language educators in the greater Charlotte area.

More than 40,000 students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools identify as Hispanic, accounting for 28.5% of the school district's enrollment. Meanwhile, only 2.3% of teachers in the school district identify as Hispanic.

"We like to think we are contributing to helping solve that problem," Duran said.

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Nick de la Canal is an on air host and reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal