Education Spotlight: Dundalk Middle School
Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) is a large school system in the United States, serving 111,094 students in Maryland in 2023. The district is known for its diversity, with students from many different backgrounds and cultures, as well as a variety of languages spoken.
To support this diversity, BCPS has an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program. This program provides multilingual learners and immigrant families with linguistically and culturally responsive instruction and support services.
Dundalk Middle School serves as a regional ESOL school within BCPS. This means that students across Baltimore and neighboring suburbs attend Dundalk to receive language support. Of the nearly 900 students at Dundalk, almost half come from a Spanish-speaking background. Additionally, there is a growing number of Arabic, Farsi, and Chinese-speaking students entering the school.
At the beginning of the 2022/2023 school year, Billye Cooper, the Community School Facilitator for Dundalk Middle School, and her peers were brainstorming ideas to better connect with ESOL students and their families. They wanted to find a translation solution that would be instantaneous and provide easy, two-way communication. After some searching they discovered Pocketalk, a device that served all of their needs.
After an initial successful trial, Billye worked with her peers to secure a grant to purchase 30 additional Pocketalk devices for Dundalk Middle School. Now, the devices are used in each department and at community engagement events. They also provide extra support for students who need it throughout the day.
“I’m very impressed with the product – and it didn’t take long to win me over,” said Billye. “Every school needs a Pocketalk, because you never know when a child or family is going to walk in and not be able to communicate in English!”
Billye explained that one of the most important ways they use Pocketalk at Dundalk is to engage parents and families that are not proficient in English, who are too often left out of the loop. Family involvement is critical to student success, and Pocketalk helps Dundalk staff and teachers to interact with families and give them the opportunity to be heard and validated.
Pocketalk has been a critical component of success at Dundalk Middle School, and Billye is now working with BCPS to get Pocketalk devices at schools across the district. If you’re a school administrator in need of a translation solution, visit our education page or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.