GOLDSBORO, N.C. — Teachers in Wayne County are getting a lesson of their own. It centers on a rapidly growing Chinese population.
When Maria Ramirez-Olmo came to the United States to teach English as a second language, she thought she'd put her native Spanish to good use. That wasn''t the case at Greenwood Middle School in Goldsboro.
"This year, I have only one Hispanic student," Ramirez-Olmo said.
Instead, she has 30 Chinese-speaking students. Chinese students are the fastest growing foreign-speaking population in Wayne County Schools. Their numbers more than doubled last year from 93 to 243.
"You know when you are thinking about Wayne County, you don't think of many people locating in this area," said ESL director Hope Meyerhoeffer.
The school system said the reason is that companies such as Carolina Turkeys recruits workers from all over the world.
To prevent the language barrier from becoming a learning barrier, teachers are also taking a Chinese class once a week. The state only breaks down Asian-speaking students. They make up 2 percent of the public school population statewide.