Why Sabal Palm Elementary is Top of the Class
Picture this: It’s your first day of elementary school at a new school in a new country. Your hands are clammy because you’re nervous about meeting new friends and how you’re going to get along with your teacher. Your stomach has butterflies wondering if anyone will speak the same language as you. Sabal Palm Elementary School is working to alleviate the first day jitters with the help of Pocketalk.
Sabal Palm Elementary School is a community partnership school in Tallahassee, Florida. Their goal as a community partnership school is to bring together high-quality academics, health care, food-assistance, counseling, support, mentoring and more to their staff, students, and greater community. They rely on a long term commitment between the school and their community partners to help make these goals possible. Sabal Palm Elementary School has four key partners each with a 25-year commitment to the program: the Leon County School District, the Florida A&M College of Education, Florida State University PrimaryHealth, overseen by its College of Medicine, and the Children’s Home Society of Florida.
As a historically underserved community with a significant population experiencing homelessness or financial hardship, Sabal Palm is no stranger to removing hurdles to help their students, staff, and more. One of the largest hurdles they face? Language barriers. With many ESL (English as a second language) represented in their students and faculty, Sabal Palm dedicated translation tools, including Pocketalk, to best serve their school district.
Sabal Palm Elementary School has found success with Pocketalk translator devices for several years, but recently upgraded to a new fleet of Pocketalk Plus Voice Translators. We sat down with Shannon Davis, Sabal Palm Principal, to learn more about how her school uses Pocketalk to achieve their mission and serve their community.
Tell us about the decision to purchase Pocketalk devices for Leon County School District.
We first purchased the old devices awhile back because we have a variety of languages spoken by our students. We have students from Switzerland, Russia and a large population of Spanish speaking students. Our ESL teachers are also not native English speakers, with one speaking French Creole and the other Swahili.
Prior to having the devices, we would need to have multilingual speakers present for our ESL classes, and would have to ensure they were knowledgeable of all languages spoken by our students. Even then, we experienced some language barriers with dialect – something that Pocketalk has allowed us to navigate with ease.
How are the devices being used?
Each school in Leon County received a few devices, based on their student population and language needs. We received the most of the district, being a community partnership school with a variety of languages and cultures present. The devices are used most frequently in our ESL classes and other instruction to assist students who are having trouble comprehending their teacher or instruction. Likewise, it has been a great tool for orientation and parent-teacher conferences. We’ve already seen a lot of text translating with the camera on our new devices. It is very helpful to translate documents and school work for our students.
Why is it important to overcome language barriers for Sabal Palm Elementary School?
Our kids need an extra level of support so they can enter the world on an even playing field as the kids in the next town over. Overcoming language barriers is the first step towards a future of success for our students. While they learn English, Pocketalk serves as an important tool to help them feel comfortable and accepted in whatever language they speak. When I use my device around students, they love the fact that I am able to speak in their language. It’s important to meet them where they feel comfortable, and for a lot of our students that means speaking their language.
To learn more about how Sabal Palm Elementary School became a community partnership school, and what that means for students, families and the community, visit https://www.tallahassee.com/story/.