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RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. — The 2021-2022 school year begins soon, and it comes during a time when school systems have faced a number of challenges and adjustments.

In Russellville, about 26 percent of the student population speaks Spanish primarily. To help its Spanish-speaking elementary school students stay on track academically, the system hired bilingual aides from within the Franklin County area.

Superintendent Heath Grimes said the aides help in many ways including repeating instructions and explaining lessons in Spanish.

Grimes added that the aides are helping to boost students’ confidence as well.

“Many of our students are not as vocal as they need to be to learn how to speak, read, and write and having someone that looks like them, that speaks their language, has made a huge impact in how active and engaged they are in class,” Grimes said.

Grimes said the system started with just two bilingual aides in February but will have around 15 for the start of the upcoming semester.