Omaha District Hires High School Students as Interpreters | Nebraska News


OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Faced with a staff shortage, public schools in Nebraska’s largest city have turned to bilingual high school students to interpret when families chat with teachers at report card conferences.

The Omaha School District has full-time bilingual liaisons, but students and their families speak more than 100 different languages, and more than 18,000 students have received services for limited English speakers at any given time in the district.

Lisa Utterback, the district’s student and community services manager, told the Omaha World-Herald that the district has about 20 students hired as interpreters. Students are paid $ 18 per hour to assist with middle and elementary school lectures.

Utterback said student interpreters go through the same application process and training as non-student interpreters.

Three of the translators who are in high school are used to translating for others.

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Hser Kmwe, who speaks Karen, the language widely spoken in parts of Thailand and Myanmar, helped translate in the grocery store after seeing someone struggling to communicate. She often translates for her parents.

Families in the Pu Meh community often offer to pay her for helping translate from Karen to English, but she has always refused payment.

Karen Soto translates for her Spanish speaking family and volunteers to help other parents.

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