Making A Difference: English Language Learners and #KindnessRocksCSD
People sitting at a long table painting rocks


English Language Learners from throughout the Colonial School District recently decorated Kindness Rocks with inspirational messages in various languages.

"We're painting rocks, because it's fun," said a young student named Jin.

The project brought together English Language Learners from Plymouth Whitemarsh High School (PWHS) and Colonial Elementary School for an activity in the high school library — and continued later in the week at the annual spring English Language Learners Family Dinner that included students from throughout the District.

"We're painting and eating. It's good because everybody speaks a different language, and we can enjoy each other," said Deysi Gonzalez, a PWHS student who came to the United States from Guatemala eight months ago.

The Kindness Rocks will be placed throughout the community at different school buildings and in local parks.

"Students throughout the District, not just English Language Learners, can pick up a rock, tag it on social media with the hashtag #KindnessRocksCSD, and help spread our message of kindness and diversity," said English as a Second Language teacher Rebecca Hepler.

English as a Second Language in Colonial

rocks with positive messages


Colonial's English Language Learners come from more than 90 families and speak more than 20 different languages. Some come to the United States knowing a little English, but it still can be confusing.

"In South America, English is not like here," said PWHS student Fernanda Medina who came to the United States from Ecuador. "For example, in my native country, we learned that 'they' is only for persons, not for things. Here, I learned 'they' is also for things."

For English Language Learners, the District uses the "Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol" or SIOP model to help them stay current with their peers while learning how to read, write, and hear English. SIOP allows English as a Second Language teachers to push into the classrooms to give one-on-one and small group support while the students learn the same concepts and skills as their peers.