This week a new kind of language class began at Rosa Parks Elementary School in Portland

Teacher Salaad O’Barrow is teaching two Somali languages in a class that administrators hope will address low achievement and high dropout rates in students by strengthening the connection between Somali students’ families and the school.

O’Barrow’s class teaches both the Maxaa language and the lesser known Maay-Maay. The class includes both languages of the Somali community, whereas other classes in the country have only taught Maxaa.

The classes are bi-weekly and teach basic words, including Maay-Maay words students might have learned at home, using pictures.

Portland plans to implement the dual-language program in two more schools this fall and is considering Madison High and Harrison Park K-8.

As a Midwestern girl, Josie enjoys living in the plains, but would love to travel the globe, already having spent several months abroad during her studies in Austria. After graduating, she spends much of her time reading, writing, walking, running, dancing, and living! Josie would love nothing more than to empower others to be able to do the same.