Nutley educator uses immersive approach to teach Spanish to kids with disabilities

Isabel Cosme, a Spanish teacher at the Phoenix Center in Nutley, has a great connection with her students -- something that isn't always easy in her field.

Danielle Hamilton and Karina Gerry

Oct 12, 2023, 4:57 PM

Updated 281 days ago

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A North Jersey educator is using an immersive approach to teach students with disabilities the Spanish language and about Hispanic heritage.
Isabel Cosme, a Spanish teacher at the Phoenix Center in Nutley, has a great connection with her students -- something that isn't always easy in her field.
"To see the students respond to her, and her ability to conduct the class to provide that access and they just enjoy it so much," says the Phoenix Center executive director Julie Mower.
Cosme, who is Ecuadorian-American, teaches Spanish at the Phoenix Center in Nutley to kids with autism, behavioral and intellectual disabilities and other conditions. Many of her students are nonverbal.
"In order for them to access the curriculum, I needed to think of creative ways so that they can have that intrinsic motivation to explore the authentic material I present during each lesson," says Cosme.
She incorporates music, dance, movie clips and cooking into her daily lessons. This gives the students a way to express themselves and helps them understand the Spanish language.
Cosme is the only certified Spanish teacher at the center, and her main responsibility is exposing her ninth, 10th and 11th grade students to Hispanic and Latino cultures.


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