Ángel Solorzano spoke so little English when he arrived at Kearny High he had to communicate with the school’s principal, Ana Diaz-Booz, through sign language.
That’s not unusual for Diaz-Booz. The students who enter her school run the gamut in language skills. She gets those with a basic grasp of English, and those like Solorzano, who don’t know a word.
What wasn’t typical is what happened next. Diaz-Booz placed him in a mainstream English class, where he thrived. Within a few months, he’d picked up basic English. The following year, he entered AP courses. Now, Solorzano is on his way to UC Santa Cruz on an academic scholarship.
Had he walked into a different high school, the outcome may have been different. He’d likely have been placed into a separate class for English-learners, an ESL class, as it’s called. There, he’d practice the language until teachers and counselors felt he was ready to take classes that count toward graduation.