- Associated Press - Monday, May 2, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Florencia Nievas knew at a young age that she wanted to teach in another country.

The Argentina native studied English for eight years before coming to Sioux Falls to teach in the school district’s Spanish immersion program, the Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/240AKx3 ) reported.

Like Nievas, almost all of the district’s 20 Spanish immersion teachers come to South Dakota from other countries, according to human resources supervisor Becky Dorman.

The district does not travel to find international teachers, Dorman said, but that has not stopped them from recruiting from a wide range of Spanish-speaking countries, including Argentina, Ecuador, Columbia, Spain and Mexico.

Spanish immersion teachers must be able to speak both English and Spanish. They are recruited primarily online, Dorman said, but the district has also been able to hire teachers based on the recommendations of current teachers.



“Now that our program has been existent for more than a handful of years, staff are reaching out to people they know in the world of teaching,” Dorman said.

A number of interns have also stayed on to become full-time teachers.

Nievas first came to Sioux Falls as an intern for the district three years ago, through the Amity Institute, a program that places international teachers in American classrooms.

After a summer back in Argentina, she accepted a full-time job as a first-grade Spanish immersion teacher at Rosa Parks.

Coming to the U.S. for a job was not cheap, Nievas said. The district does not pay teachers to relocate, but a parent-led group does what it can to offer new teachers support, according to school board member and Spanish immersion parent Carly Reiter.

The Parent Advocates for Spanish Immersion set up fully-furnished apartments for teachers, so when they arrive in the U.S. they are able to walk into a home. They also help teachers find community resources, get a drivers license, open bank accounts, and meet other teachers and parents.

“It’s a very large process, but our whole intent is, number one, we want our teachers to feel welcome and comfortable,” Reiter said.

The international flight was expensive, Nievas said, but the support from parents and the opportunity to teach in Sioux Falls made the trip worthwhile.

“They have given us so much, the parents from the school,” Nievas said.

Before coming to Sioux Falls, Nivas had never been abroad, but after two years teaching within the district, she’s starting to feel at home.

“When I came, I fell in love with the (Spanish immersion) program, and I really like the way they work here,” Nievas said.

This year, the district is looking to hire seven Spanish immersion teachers, including three new positions. When Sonia Sotomayor Elementary opens in the fall, most of its 23 teachers will be from other countries.

And Nievas is excited to be one of them.

___

Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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