Elaine Estes '19

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Home | Stories | Elaine Estes ’19

Double Major Combines Experience, Passion to Reshape Bilingual Education

Elaine Estes, Class of 2019. Elaine is a Presidential Scholarship recipient and a women’s track scholarship recipient.

Double Major Combines Experience, Passion to Reshape Bilingual Education

At a time when people of Hispanic or Latinx backgrounds represent the largest minority in the United States, Elaine Estes ’19 used the unique combination of opportunities available to her at Saint Joseph’s to build a curricular toolkit to better serve bilingual students. Estes double majored in both Spanish and secondary education, and knocked out two minors to boot: Latin American Studies and Theology & Religious Studies. Oh, and by the way, she’s a three-season track and cross country student-athlete.

“A lot of people might look to education as a way to learn to become a teacher,” Estes says. “St. Joe’s really stresses the power that education holds in forming you as an educator.”

To gain better perspective on the quality of bilingual education in Philadelphia, Estes undertook a research project comparing the resources available to Hispanic students learning English in the city to their counterparts around the country. She says that while Philadelphia is doing well in expanding bilingual elementary school lessons in Spanish — the city’s most widely spoken minority language — there is still work to be done.

“The school district needs to find ways to follow bilingually educated students up through the secondary level and fine tune the curricula used to reach more students in more schools who speak more languages,” she says. “They should also expand offerings for gifted students who happen to be bilingual.”

But Estes isn’t just hoping to see a change. She wants to be part of it. Before graduation, she gained valuable on-the-job experience student-teaching 7th grade Spanish and social studies at Antonia Pantoja Charter School in a neighborhood in North Philadelphia with a 56 percent Hispanic population — four times the citywide average representation.

Now Estes is a first year teacher at a college preparatory school for females, Merion Mercy Academy in Merion, Pennsylvania.

Elaine Estes, Class of 2019. Elaine is a Presidential Scholarship recipient and a women’s track scholarship recipient.