Proximity Learning Helps With Foreign Language Teacher Shortage

By Ruth Campbell

Having virtual teachers for American Sign Language at Odessa and Permian high schools has worked out well, but the students would still prefer having a face-to-face instructor.

The Ector County Independent School District Board of Trustees approved using Proximity Learning to provide certified instructors for the course to teach via videoconferencing.

The cost was estimated at $60,000. All the classes have facilitators on site.

Public Information Officer Mike Adkins said in September that ECISD does not pay the teacher. They pay Proximity to find the teacher, provide the curriculum to the teacher and to use Proximity’s technology platform that delivers the online classes. The district also provides a facilitator for the classroom.

ASL is one of five foreign language options for high school students and students are required to take two years of a foreign language. It is the third most popular request behind Spanish and French, and ahead of German and Latin. Students in classes this year are taking ASL II.

Rachel Baxter, associate principal over curriculum and instruction at OHS, said the program started during the second six weeks of school. There are two ASL classes each at Odessa high and two at Permian, she said.

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