Growing Classroom Confidence Through Teaching Language

Fanny Menardi is an English as a Second Language teacher at IDEA River Bluff in Jacksonville, Florida. Originally, she started the 2023-24 school year as a college prep science teacher. Upon transitioning into her new role, she had no idea that she would leave everlasting feelings for her students of inspiration, confidence, and eagerness. 

What inspired Menardi to take on this shift in her role? Here’s her story. 

A+ Students Facing Language Barriers 

IDEA River Bluff’s student population is very diverse. Many different continents and regions are represented in the student body, such as South America, the Middle East, and other parts of the world. When they are in a classroom that is being taught in another language, one in which they have little to no experience, things can be challenging. 

It can be easy to fall behind, as hours usually spent doing homework are spent on translating material. Feelings of confusion and frustration had overwhelmed these students far too much, and Menardi believed something needed to be done.

“These are A+ students who are struggling because of the language barrier”, Menardi said. 

This is what caused the science teacher to start an English club. Students would be able to come after school once a week to learn English. The response to the club was overwhelming, as more students joined in.

While the afterschool program was a wonderful start, there was still more to be done. Was a couple of hours a week once a week after school enough for these students? Menardi didn’t think so.  

The Start of Something Incredible 

This is when she was offered the opportunity to change her role within IDEA River Bluff. She would become the head of the English as a Second Language program and commit herself full-time as an ESL teacher. 

Alongside her team, they developed a system in which students would be pulled from their classes a few times a day to come see her to learn the language. Students are paired into small groups based on their English language skill level and their native language background. In their groups, they learn everything from English, grammar, vocabulary, and common instructions that are used in the classroom. This system has allowed the learning to be more personalized, as she can meet the students where they are and take them to where they want to be.  

Paving the Way for All Students to Succeed 

From glowing smiles in the hallways to more confidence in the classroom, the program has had tremendous success. Feedback from other teachers has been nothing short of spectacular as they can see the difference in these students in the classroom.  

Menardi attributes the success of these students to the wonderful Team and Family at IDEA River Bluff.

“This is why we are an A rated school. They don’t hesitate to invest in the students”, Menardi shared. 

They are already planning more ways to better serve these students for the upcoming 2024-25 school year. The school will be having a three-week summer camp where students can come in the morning and continue to practice and learn English.  

“I am very committed to serve them every time I am with them,” Menardi said. Her commitment exemplifies how at IDEA Public Schools, we strive to ensure equity for all.

See more of her story here from News4JAX.  


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