Byline: Matt Arado Daily Herald Staff Writer
Maria Lorenzo must want to pinch herself when she looks at the bilingual/English as a Second Language education program as it exists today in River Trails School District 26.
Lorenzo got the program going in the small Mount Prospect-based school district roughly 20 years ago. At the time, she was the only teacher trained to instruct students with limited English skills.
"It was really a 'Little Red Schoolhouse' kind of atmosphere then," said Lorenzo, who now teaches second grade at Euclid Elementary School. "We've come a long way."
Today, the district employs nine full-time teachers and a bilingual social worker to teach children with limited proficiency in English. Numerous additional teachers are training to receive English as a Second Language certification.
Officials say the program has been able to keep pace with the demographic changes that have taken place in the Mount Prospect area over the last 20 years.
"The needs of the community have changed," said Euclid Assistant Principal Lucy Cerwin, who is also the district's bilingual education coordinator. "If we're going to educate our students properly, we have to make sure they have the required mastery of English."
Parents of children with limited English skills are given a choice of learning programs. …