Media drops Spanish from freshman schedule

To save teacher jobs, Media Academy freshmen are not taking Spanish classes this year. School officials decided freshmen should take two media classes instead.
That’s the explanation Media Academy director Michael Jackson gave the Green & Gold.

Due to declining enrollment at Media, there weren’t enough students to fill all the classes usually taught by media teachers Lisa Shafer, Richard Yacco and Howard Ruffner.

By adding an extra media class to the freshman schedule, one of the teachers did not have to move to an English position, which would have pushed one of the current English teachers, who have less seniority, out of a job.

This year, Shafer teaches Journalism and Ruffner teaches multimedia to freshmen. Previously, Shafer taught Media Studies to sophomores for a semester and Ruffner taught Journalism to freshmen. Another change is that Yacco teaches Media Studies to sophomores for a full year instead of just a semester.

The decision to change the freshman and sophomore electives was made at the end of last year.

“We decided to try something new with 9th graders by having them start newspaper, print journalism … and take Spanish next year,” said Vice Principal Sarah Mazzotta.

The changes have made some students glad and others mad.

Freshman Melissa Mejia thinks freshmen should take Spanish in 9th grade because as she has gotten older she has forgotten how to speak it.

“I feel like I want to take it since I’m Mexican,” said Mejia. “I need to relearn my Spanish since I lost it.”

Freshman Bopha Chim is glad to take journalism this year instead of Spanish.
“I wouldn’t want to take it because it’ll be hard for me to learn another language,” Chim said.

Administrators thought that having freshmen take two media classes this year would help decrease the dropout rate.

“It was a conscious decision by the staff at Media Academy in order to maximize the opportunities for incoming freshmen and also employ some of your favorite teachers,” said Jackson.

Jackson believes giving freshmen extra reading and writing practice this year will help them with their literacy skills.

“English students who are not functional in English could wait a year to learn a second language,” said Jackson.

Shafer said she enjoys her new teaching schedule.

“Teaching journalism for an entire year to the same students gives me a better chance to dig deeper than I [could] teaching only one semester of Media Studies to sophomores,” said Shafer. “On the other hand, I am sorry that students in the heart of Fruitvale don’t have the chance to take four years of Spanish. This is a community where Spanish skills are essential to have.”

Spanish teachers Felicidad Guirao and Rebekkah Ford say they miss having freshmen as students.

“I would love to teach Spanish earlier, but I respect the decisions that were made to better our freshmen’s learning,” said Ford.

Guirao was disappointed that she no longer had the opportunity to teach freshman.
“I miss freshmen because they are very energetic and they have so much vitality,” said Guirao.

It is unknown what will happen with next year’s freshmen schedule as Fremont Federation becomes a big school. It is still up in the air, said Jackson.