Esperanza School lures English language learners  
La Voz


Tiny campus set in Hispanic area

Valeria Fernández  Mar. 16, 2007

A freshly painted mural covers the walls of Esperanza School with images of human and civil rights activists from around the world as parents visit the cozy charter school founded a year ago in the heart of the Palomino Neighborhood.

The school recently had an open house, hoping to attract more students in its second year.

The first year was a challenge for the charter high school whose goal is to serve a mostly Latino immigrant community. Most of the 60 students already enrolled are English language learners who needed extra help to catch up with the academic standards required for the AIMS test, said Dorelyn Kunkel, school principal.

Esperanza School focuses on bilingual education, sparking the interest of immigrant families in the nearby neighborhood.

Celia García, 57, enrolled her 16-year-old daughter Maria in the school, saying she likes the smaller class sizes and more supervised attention.

Also García is hoping to enroll in the free weekly English classes that the school offers to parents.

The school is adjacent to a property used as a day-labor center on Bell Road and 25th Street.

"We want to be a community school, and have more parent involvement," Kunkel said.

Kunkel anticipates the school will enroll at least 150 students by next year that would allow it to expand its facilities.