This project is titled Educating Language Minority Students (ELMS) and is dedicated to the core idea that ALL teachers are responsible for the education of English learners (ELs). The ELMS project focuses on providing professional development for in-service and pre-service content area teachers so that they will be better prepared to improve academic outcomes for ELs in their classes. The ELMS project also seeks to develop ESL preparation standards for in-service content area teachers that can be used in future professional development projects, and an observation instrument that will be used in the mainstream classroom. The ELMS project will have aspects that serve the entire state, but the project operates primarily in coastal North Carolina in Pender, New Hanover, Duplin, and Brunswick Counties.
The ELMS project has several goals and five objectives, but at its core it represents a philosophy. Here in North Carolina we have struggled with integrating language minority students into our schools and communities. We are not a state that has historically supported large numbers of immigrants although we have certainly seen our share of immigration, from the Greeks in the 1920s and 1930s to the Latino migrant communities that have for decades harvested the numerous crops grown in the state. For years, immigrants and their families have been peripheral participants in the story of North Carolina. Now, the single largest population growth in North Carolina has been seen in the Latino community, and the ELMS project hopes to capture the momentum of the realization of that growth. The time for cultural and linguistic tolerance and acceptance is gone. Now is the time for cultural and linguistic celebration. The ELMS project hopes to work together with pre-service and in-service teachers to change the context of EL education in North Carolina so that these learners are no longer seen as 'the ESL students' but rather simply, 'our students'.