Sandra Quiñones-Hemphill said she is amazed by the progress of students in the English language learners classes at William Penn Senior High School.

"I saw students go from a first-grade reading level and now they're in a scholastic program," said Quiñones-Hemphill, supervisor of the school's ELL and Spanish immersion programs. "A consultant was sent in, and we saw test scores shoot up."

The consultant was from Scholastic Inc., a New York City-based organization that runs reading programs to overcome adolescent illiteracy.

William Penn's ELL classes use Scholastic's Read 180 program, specifically designed to equip teachers with training and materials needed to overcome adolescent illiteracy, Quiñones-Hemphill said.

Because of the ELL students' successes, Scholastic Inc. is using the William Penn classes as a model for other school districts using the Read 180 program, she said.

Town hall meeting: Quiñones-Hemphill spoke of the students' progress to more than 120 people who attended the York City School District's town hall meeting, where school officials, teachers and program directors highlighted the district's successes.

There were presentations about Parents Advocates for Children, teacher recruitment, classroom technology, special education and the 21st Century After-School Program that features small group counseling, homework and computer help, recreation, field trips and summer activi-
ties for elementary and middle-school children.


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There is a "spirit of cooperation and community" within the district as educators and program organizers work together to support students, said Jeanette Torres, president of the district's school board.

However, their efforts and the students' successes are "little known and under-recognized," she said.

Students' views: Several students attended the event, including 17-year-old senior Christopher Keys, who is a student representative to the school board.

Christopher said the district offers more than enough programs needed to keep students interested in school, help them overcome academic and personal challenges and give them the skills they need to become successful in life.

"It's great that we have such a variety of opportunities in our school district," he said. "It's important for students and parents to get more involved in our school district. It's important that we involve our community in our school district."

--Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at 505-5438 or emcmillan@yorkdispatch.com.