"I will avoid having to hear Spanish all the time," said Martinez about wanting to be placed into the normal sixth grade.
Amada San Juan, a bilingual teacher who has been working with Martinez, said that making the switch to a normal classroom on the seventh grade level would be more difficult than to switch on the elementary level.
"She has strong basic skills in her language," said San Juan.
But she will get some advanced preparation over the summer to help her with English. Martinez, whose family arrived in the United States from El Salvador, is enrolled in the West New York school district's home mentoring program.
Although the mentoring is only a four-week program, San Juan said that she plans to continue to work with Martinez through the summer.
"The pronunciation of certain words is still difficult for me," said Martinez.
"She still gets a kick out of the past tense," said San Juan. "Every time she sees a word with an 'ed' she has to look up [from the book]."
Part of the program
On the first day of the mentoring program, the teachers brought their students to Barnes and Noble and asked them to pick out books that they would like to read.
Giselle Ferrer, the BEAM coordinator in charge of the program, said that each student was given $62 to purchase books.
"Some of the parents were so happy that we did that," said Ferrer. "Some of these children didn't own any books."
Normally this program is open to all English as a Second Language and bilingual students in the district and is run inside one of the school buildings. However, Ferrer said that renovations in the school buildings this summer prevented the district from holding the program.
This year, the bilingual teachers recommended a few students for the program, and each of the 16 teachers work with three students a day, Monday through Friday, at their homes.
"I wish we could do this all year," said Ferrer, "It has been very rewarding."
Ferrer said that the students recommended for the program had to be born in a country outside of the United States and had to be here for less than three years.
Martinez has been reading Sacagawea. After reading each chapter out loud for her teacher, Martinez also writes a summary of the chapter.
San Juan also purchased Chicken Soup for the Kids' Soul, a collection of short stories for Martinez to read.
"She goes through this book and picks any story she wants to read," said San Juan. "This breaks the monotony of reading the same book each day."
The program will end with a field trip to Waterloo Village for each of the students.
Also as part of this program, eight students in the Program for Academic, Social, Survival and English Skills (PASSES) have been meeting in the West New York Public Library, on 60th Street across from Town Hall, to write their autobiography.
Students enrolled in the PASSES program have recently entered the country and lack the language and basic skills to be put into regular classes.
Through the summer program at the library, the students will have their autobiographies bound in hard cover and also use digital cameras to illustrate the book.
"This program includes reading, writing composition and English acquisition," said Ferrer.