Carroll County Public Schools currently offers five world languages to high school students — American Sign Language, French, German, Latin and Spanish — but no county students actually have the option of choosing from all five.
Francis Scott Key High School only offers Spanish, while Century and Manchester Valley high schools each offer French and Spanish. Westminster High at one time offered all five, and currently offers the most: American Sign Language, German, Latin and Spanish.
“It shouldn’t depend on their ZIP code what [language classes students] can sign up for,” Amy Pritchett, assistant supervisor of world languages, told Carroll County school board members at a Jan. 12 meeting. “This has led to the development of the idea of doing the virtual option.”
During a recent Carroll County school board meeting, Pritchett proposed adding a virtual learning option in which high school students could take world language courses online, on school grounds.
“Some of the schools only have one language and other schools where there are more than one language … it’s not a full position and the teacher often teaches two languages,” Pritchett told school board members on Jan. 12.
“This presents a challenge for our students because not every student, depending on what school they attend, has the opportunity to select more than one language,” Pritchett said.
The school system requires students to earn two credits in world languages to graduate, unless they are in the career and technology completer program.
Under the virtual option, Pritchett said, classes would be done online during the school day and no travel would be required for students or teachers.
Carroll County teachers would teach the online classes following the county’s curriculum.
“This would allow a teacher to teach in their content area where they are an expert,” Pritchett said.
Pritchett said she hopes to expand the virtual model for high schools next school year and middle schools in the future.
“This would go a long way in supporting the goal of creating global citizens,” Pritchett said.
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School board member Donna Sivigny called the virtual option “great, from an access perspective.
“I think this would really help beef up the access to additional options for our students and it wouldn’t be an issue with the number of kids in a particular high school. … This is a fantastic and creative way in giving much more access to our students in a varied program,” Sivigny said.
School board member Tara Battaglia agreed that expanding the language offerings was a good idea.
“We’ve learned how to do virtual [learning] in multiple ways and this is a phenomenal way,” Battaglia said.
School board member Patricia Dorsey called expansion of the languages program “very exciting.”
“The need is there and we would really be preparing our students with pathways to future jobs,” Dorsey said.
Superintendent Steve Lockard advised school board members that expansion of the world languages program should be further discussed during the fiscal 2023 operating budget planning process.