MOULTRIE -- The Georgia Project is a go in Colquitt County.

Two teachers from Mexico will be resource teachers here in the coming school year. Since the Georgia Professional Standards Commission cannot certify these teachers, they will be employed as instructional providers or paraprofessionals but would be paid at a higher rate of pay -- about $17,000 per teacher plus benefits. The Georgia Project would be responsible for the teachers' housing, furniture, travel expenses to and from Mexico and visa applications. Overall, the expense to the school system will be about $50,000.

Assistant Superintendent Mo Yearta suggested the teachers be placed in the middle schools before students enter high school. C.A. Gray Middle School has 19 percent Hispanic population, and Willie J. Williams Middle School has 9 percent, she said.

Right now, the middle schools share one English as a second language (ESL) teacher, she said.

In addition, two local teachers will attend a summer institute to study Spanish and the Hispanic culture, including the educational system of Mexico. Two weeks in June will be spent at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC), which received funds to coordinate and support the initiatives. The Colquitt County teachers will then spend two weeks studying at the University of Monterey, Mexico.

The Georgia Project will be responsible for institute lodging, breakfast and lunch, tuition and books. The system would be obligated to pay for plane tickets and airport parking and has the option of paying a stipend. The estimated cost to the system is $1,500. The teachers (already a middle school science teacher and a Cox Elementary ESL teacher have expressed an interest) will be responsible for evening meals and personal costs.

The project also will provide at no cost continued professional development to classroom teachers on effective instructional practice in the regular classroom for ESL students. The Georgia Project also sponsored an instructor from the Center of Applied Linguistics, who has already conducted some training locally.

Superintendent Leonard McCoy called it "an opportunity for more informed instruction," and not simply teaching Hispanic students in Spanish.

Colquitt County's congressional delegation has pushed for $250,000 Georgia Project funds to expand the project into Southwest Georgia with ABAC as a base. Colquitt County was a logical choice to offer the program, which has already proved very successful in Dalton, another Georgia community with a large Hispanic population.

"This is outstanding news," said Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany. "We have been diligent in our efforts to bring the Georgia Project to Southwest Georgia because this important program promises to begin meeting the new language challenges of our school system, our social service systems, our government agencies and our courts. I am proud of the progress that we are making, just as I am proud to welcome these new teachers to our school system and to our community."

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