A group of preschoolers gather around Michael Arteaga, eager to practice the alphabet in Spanish and in English.
Arteaga and his mother, Carrie Woodcock, head of world languages and global initiatives for Hall County Schools, have teamed with University of Georgia professor Misha Cahnmann-Taylor to give every Hall County preschool student a bilingual alphabet book illustrated by Arteaga.
Woodstock said the book, titled “Spanish to English ABC” is important because it helps students learn the alphabet by translating words that start with the same letter in both languages.
“Even in bilingual books it would be hard, because the word ‘moon’ in Spanish starts with the letter ‘L,’” Woodcock explained. “So I just thought we needed a new book. He was in Europe at the time, so he just painted the images and sent them to me.”
The book uses words such as “airplane,” which is “avion” in Spanish, and “nose,” which is “nariz” in Spanish.
Woodcock created and printed the book nearly a decade ago, but her former professor Cahnmann-Taylor wanted to see the books reach further.
Cahnmann-Taylor was awarded the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award Trust last year, a $25,000 award for motivating a former student.
“This award is essentially for a professor who promotes change in the community and who influences a student to make change in a community,” Woodcock said. “Her influence was on me and a colleague of mine, because we both sort of started dual-immersion schools.”
Cahnmann-Taylor used the funds to pay for hundreds of the books to be printed and distributed to all Hall Pre-K students.
“She wanted to give me some money for the community, to help in terms of literacy and bilingualism in the arts, because those are her passions,” Woodcock said.
On Wednesday, Arteaga and Woodcock distributed the books to students in the World Language Academy dual-immersion preschool program at the former Jones Elementary School campus. Arteaga signed books for the students, drawing doodles for them on the covers.
The books will continue to be used by the district through the summer.
“We have a summer program for children of poverty who will come for six weeks,” Woodcock said. “They have to be Spanish-speaking children of a Spanish-speaking home, and we’ll have 60 kids who’ll spend those six weeks in school.”