LAKE MARY, Fla. — Central Florida school districts, including Seminole County, are continuing to see rising numbers of English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) students. 

What You Need To Know

  • Seminole County Public Schools officials say they are seeing rising ESOL student numbers

  • Population has grown by around 24 students since 2020

  • “Here they can be themselves,” said Lake Mary High ESOL teacher Gilda Grau Carazo

Lake Mary High School is among three high schools in the county with the most ESOL students, according to assistant principal Melisa Ayala-Cruz, who oversees the ESOL Department at Lake Mary High.

The school went from having 118 ESOL students in the 2020 to 2021 school year to 142 students this school year, said Ayala-Cruz.

“Those ESOL teachers, they’re a real strong show of support for the students,” Principal Mickey Reynolds told Spectrum News. “They become family in those classrooms and they need that to be their best selves.”

Gilda Grau Carazo, a Lake Mary High School ESOL teacher, speaks Spanish and has mostly Spanish speaking students. She has a handful of students, including from Iraq and Egypt, who speak some English, and she will use translator software to meet them in the middle as needed. 

“Here they can be themselves, they can express, they can communicate using their native language,” she said.