BELOIT — The latest census shows Wisconsin's Hispanic population grew to nearly a half a million people, or 7.6 percent of the state's total population.
The need for English language teachers will be on the rise for years to come.
Beloit has seen a boom in it's Latino population. One in five people identify as Hispanic.
Despite being nearly half the size of Janesville, Beloit still has a higher Latino population by nearly 4,000 people.
Maria Elena Briz teaches her fourth and fifth graders not just Spanish, but science in Spanish as well. It is called dual language immersion. Students learn both languages at the same time.
Theresa Morateck with Beloit Schools says the need to expand this program is growing. “I can tell you right now that we have more of a need than we do staff," said Morateck.
Briz is one of six Beloit teachers working to get their teaching certificates at Concordia University. She expects to get her master’s degree and English language teaching certificate by next year.
She moved to America from Mexico 20 years ago.
“I love to be part of the lives of our students,” said Briz.
“We know this is a building need, and we want to get ahead of it," said Morateck.
This means recruiting current students like freshman Grecia Mireles.
“I hope that when I become a teacher that they think I’m the best teacher,” said Mireles.
As our nation grows more diverse, so will the importance of valuable teachers like Ms. Briz.