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How Monica Eaton Crafted the first Elementary Spanish Curriculum in Jackson County.

How Monica Eaton Crafted the first Elementary Spanish Curriculum in Jackson County.
Students within public education are not usually introduced to foreign language courses until middle or high school inside the United States.
Ten percent of public elementary schools in the United States offer foreign language programs to students. Monica Eaton wanted to do something about that, and introduce Spanish education to students inside the Jackson County School System.
West Jackson Elementary School is the first within JCSS to offer Spanish curriculum to K-5 grade students. Eaton crafted the Spanish curriculum nearly six years ago.
Eaton was born and raised in Colombia, South America. Eaton’s experience growing up there gives her a profound appreciation for the educational systems here in the United States.
“I was fortunate enough to attend a private school during my time in Colombia. When it came time to pursue a career, I worked as a speech therapist there for ten years before moving here,” said Eaton.
“It is very different from Colombia, where it was hot year round and most schools did not have air conditioning. It is a very poor country.”
Eaton graduated and obtained her Masters in Scientific Studies from Colombia. After meeting her husband they moved to the states to raise their children. Eaton’s husband joined the U.S. Military, serving until retirement, while Eaton chose to join the educational field.
The Eaton’s have two twin boys at Legacy Knoll Middle School, Maximus and Nicholas. Their eldest son, Gabriel attends Jackson County High School, and is a member of the band. Monica stayed home with the boys for the first five years until they started pre-k in Jackson County.
Eaton was ready to begin working again and quickly found herself serving the Jackson County School System as a paraprofessional for two years. She also assisted in bilingual evaluations for speech therapists.
“It is a joy to watch Ms. Eaton and her students in action. She has thoughtfully crafted each lesson and incorporates singing, dancing, videos, visuals, and of course lots of Spanish language. She goes above and beyond for her students and for creating this amazing Spanish special,” said Lori King, WJES Principal.
Eaton knew she always wanted to work with children; she especially holds a strong passion for special education. Eaton is a speech therapist as well, attributing her Speech Therapy License to learning tips and tricks to help the students learn pronunciation with their new language skills.
“How can I be engaging, how can I help them to learn the pronunciation and that it was like the sounds they know better? My students are reading in Spanish right now, they may not know what they are saying but the pronunciation sounds better,” she said.
While crafting the curriculum, Eaton went through the GaTAPP program, (Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy), which she finished last year.
“Dr. (Amity) Hardegree had the idea to create a new special because of the population growth here, and we only had seven teachers for special time. I would teach foreign language for an hour a day,” said Eaton.
“The population continued to grow and so did the program. I teach more than a thousand students between all the grades.”
The Jackson County School System is  one of the fastest growing school systems in the state, in terms of population. As the growth continues, JCSS continues to implement and welcome new academic opportunities for students.
Eaton’s goal is to provide as many students with foreign language skills to adapt to the growing world. Her goal is to see more elementary schools implement foreign language instruction to students.
“There is proof that when you teach children from an early age, they learn better and their academic abilities increase as well. Other countries are learning their native language plus other foreign languages,” said Eaton.
“I’m not only teaching them Spanish but also the culture of the Latin people and teaching how to live with diversity.”
The first kindergarten class that Eaton taught Spanish will be moving on to sixth grade after this academic school year.