Hispanic English Language Learners and Gifted Education: Elaine Estes ’19

Elaine Estes


Learning isn’t the same for every person; a teacher’s mission is to challenge students while also providing a safe and caring environment where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Elaine Estes’ ’19 Summer Scholar project is focusing on the pathways to and barriers within gifted education for English Language Learners (ELLs), with a special focus on Hispanic ELLs and those within the greater Philadelphia area.

“One thing I’ve learned in my time as an education major and teacher candidate here at SJU is that student experiences and teacher experiences are radically different,” says Estes.

A secondary education and Spanish double major from Oxford, Pennsylvania, who is also a member of the SJU Varsity Cross Country and Track and Field teams, Estes is conducting a literature review of scholarly studies on educational opportunities for gifted and Hispanic ELL students. She is creating a survey for and conducting interviews with local gifted program coordinators or school administrators in the Greater Philadelphia area. She will synthesize this information to develop recommendations for potential pathways for Hispanic ELLs in gifted education.

“English language learners have historically been one of many under-identified and underserved populations in gifted education programs,” says Estes’s Summer Scholar mentor Janine Firmender, Ph.D., assistant professor of education, who researches gifted education and pedagogy. “Elaine’s investigation into the pathways and potential barriers to gifted education services for English language learners is an important step in addressing this need in the field of gifted education.”

Estes is a member of the SJU Varsity Cross Country and Track and Field teams and has earned Dean’s List, Athletic Commissioner’s Honor Roll and A-10 Academic Honor Roll during her time at SJU. She was recently admitted to the University Senate as an at-large Senator for the class of 2019. Additionally, she is a member of the University Singers choral group and the Spanish National Honors Society, Sigma Delta PI.

She plans to use the knowledge she gains from her Summer Scholars research as she works toward becoming a teacher.

“I am interested in ELLs as a minority group, because I have seen through my experiences as a student and as a teacher candidate how they are disadvantaged within the school system,” says Estes. “I hope that my research might have a small impact in improving the educational situation for these students.”

Project Title: Hispanic English Language Learners and Gifted Education

Mentor: Janine Firmender, Ph.D., assistant professor of education

Hometown: Oxford, Pennsylvania

Follow @sjuartssciences & @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP