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Snyder will head new LEP program in 2010-11 PDF Print E-mail

By Tawny Burmood

UNL Student Intern

A new program, LEP (Limited English Proficiency), is being added to Perkins County Schools in order to meet the needs of the rising number of diverse students in the school system.

Michelle Snyder coordinated and ran the LEP when it began in January. 

Now at the start of the 2010-11 school year Snyder will be teaching LEP full time. 

The program was designed to meet one-on-one with students who are struggling with English as a second language. In January, there were eight students in the program, now at the beginning of this school year 15 students have been confirmed. 

Snyder grew up in Madrid and graduated from Wheatland. 

After graduation she attended the University of Nebraska-Kearney where she received her bachelors degree in elementary education and early childhood development in 1996. 

In 1997 she married Steve Snyder, who now works as a fourth grade teacher and is the head football and basketball coach and the assistant track coach at Perkins County Middle School.

Together they have two children, Hailey, 10, who will be in fourth grade this year and Eric, six, who will be in first grade.

Snyder has taught as a substitute (para) special education teacher in Grant for two years and later began teaching at what used to be Grant High School. 

This will be her seventh year teaching for Perkins County Schools with a background as a special education para and an in-house substitute.

As the head of the new LEP program she is most excited to help the students and their families.

“I’m looking forward to bringing these families together with the school and community to better understand each others’ cultures,” Snyder said.

“I always thought I wanted a classroom of my own,” Snyder said. “But I’ve discovered I really enjoy working one-on-one with the students and trying to figure out their individual needs.”

The job, however, is not without its obstacles. Language and cultural barriers are usually prevalent, but the point of the program is to learn how to overcome them.

“Part of teaching English is learning their culture,” Snyder said. “We can’t expect them to learn ours unless we learn theirs too.”

Snyder said she works very close with each child’s family members and is in constant communication. 

From there, she said, she begins to not only build a relationship with the student but with the family. Through this she begins to break through the barriers.

“If you help them you become part of their family,” Snyder said. 

Even the students benefit after she has established a relationship with them. And this is when, Snyder said, she begins to know that the program is really making a difference.

“They work harder,” Snyder said. “They’re going to try their best to get to where they want to be.”