Making the Grade–
We take a look at Roanoke City Public Schools and it’s English Learners and World Languages Programs.
The school system serves thousands of students from more than 70 countries.
In total, the students speak more than 70 different languages.
As W-F-X-R’S Good Day Virginia Anchor Charmayne Brown shares, because of the need and growth of it’s student population, R-C-P-S expanded programs to accommodate students and parents to help bridge the educational gap and break language barriers.

The calls come in to the Roanoke City Public Schools’ English Learners and World Languages program office.
Biligual assistant for Roanoke City Public Schools’ Karina Altamirano is the pleasant voice, speaking a familiar language, that greets those who may struggle with English.

“Everyday is different, but I absolutely love what I do,” she says. Altamirano interprets and translates for parents on this spanish hotline.
Spanish speaking parents who have questions about their kids, their school, RCPS services, and other resources call the hotline.

“It could be a family asking to register their student who just came from another country. It could be a transfer, it could be a transportation question,” Altamirano adds.

The goal for RCPS is to bridge the educational gap and remove all language barriers. Corey Allder is the Supervisor of the English Learners and World Language Department. “We identify students who are eligible for services. They’re scheduled appropriately for services. We make sure they get accommodations on assessments. We make sure they have access to all the programs and services all of our students have access to. And try to make sure they’re academically competitive with all their peers,” says Allder.


Spanish isn’t the only language spoken at Roanoke City Public Schools, students come from more than 70 different countries, so the district works hard to serve them all. More than 70 different languages are being spoken within the school system. For those different languages, Roanoke City Public Schools also gets help. They contract several local language companies, that in turn help translate all languages. There are several language assistance lines available. RCPS strives to make sure that neither student, nor; family is left behind.

“If you get communication that you can understand you can be more involved in your students education,” Allder explains. Altamirano vouches for that explanation as she reflects on her own childhood experience. “Growing up, my parents didn’t have a resource such as this one. So, really it is life changing for a family to have a hotline that they can call.” Speaking a familiar language, which leads each and every student to academic success. The program also offers a video based service. There’s also a pilot video option at four schools for those who may be more comfortable seeing an interpreter instead.