Lynwood, Calif. – About 40 Lynwood High Advanced Placement students recently shared their Spanish language skills through games and songs with students at Washington and Will Rogers elementary schools through a program that gives students a chance to see what is like to teach.

Teams of three to four high school students took over class instruction at all grade levels at Washington on Wednesday and Rogers on Thursday. First-graders, for example, learned the alphabet, numbers, colors and months of the year.

“It gives them the experience of teaching and they get to appreciate the other end of the learning process by being in front of a class,” said Viviana Vargas, an AP Spanish instructor at Lynwood High who organized the visits.

High school junior Mike Inocencio, 17, even brought his guitar and played “La Bamba” for the students.

“It was a great experience for me, teaching the children a song that I know,” Inocencio said. “I want to inspire them in the case that they want to become a musician. It also helped me confront my own fears of speaking in front of people. Singing really helped.”

Classmate Venessa Ramirez, 17, said she enjoyed the return to elementary school.

“Being here, it reminds me of when I was in elementary school,” Ramirez said. “I enjoyed working with them, much the same way that I help my younger brothers. I really connected with the students, it made me happy.”

Lynwood Unified Superintendent Paul Gothold said the visits gives older students a chance to share their knowledge and inspire younger students.

“It is a tremendous opportunity for them, not only to interact with these young students, but they also get an experience in teaching which gives them one more career pathway to choose from,” Gothold said.

The effort is also emphasizes foreign language skills – an increasingly critical component of a student’s education.

“Being bilingual is so important in our society,” Board of Education President Maria Lopez said. “When our students can communicate in Spanish and in English, it gives them so many more opportunities when they move on to college or to their careers.”


ElementarySpanish: Mike Inocencio, 17, plays La Bamba in front of a first grade class at Washington Elementary School in Lynwood on Wednesday, May 20.