Photo of Dr. Edina Haslauer presenting to Darlington High School students on October 12, 2023

Dr. Edina Haslauer presents to Darlington High School students on October 12, 2023.

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville School of Education is partnering with the Darlington (Wisconsin) Community School District to help break down language barriers. The collaboration aims to give English as a Second Language students in the district access to higher education resources and opportunities through the university.

Through the partnership, UW-Platteville offers presentations, resources and unique student connections to Darlington’s ESL students. That included an interactive presentation with professor Dr. Edina Haslauer, who shared her journey of moving from Hungary to the United States without knowing any English. On top of professors coming to Darlington to share their unique language journeys, students at Darlington High School have also had the opportunity to observe professor Dr. Chris Schulenburg’s Spanish classes on the UW-Platteville campus.

Recruitment and Retention Coordinator Jennifer McLean, a 2016 graduate with an education degree in Spanish and a current Master of Science in Organizational Change Leadership student, is leading the effort for the School of Education. She said the university’s goal is to provide information and connections for ESL students and their families to create a community of support.

“It’s looking at what the barrier is for that student and seeing how we can help them overcome that barrier. So we make ourselves available so they can talk to somebody, one-on-one from the university, and know that they have that support,” said McLean.

McLean said the goal of the partnership is to provide not only information to the ESL students but also connections for students and their families to create a community of support.

“Being a former teacher, you always love to see that progress that a student doesn’t see in themselves,” McLean said. “It’s great to show the students they have a path to higher education.”

Kalee Crist, a 2012 UW-Platteville graduate, is a bilingual teacher for the Darlington School District. She said the partnership with the university is creating a safe space for her students to ask questions and see they can receive similar support that they are currently receiving at the high school. Most importantly, Crist said, it allows her students to dream big.

“I have a lot of students in Darlington who speak predominantly Spanish,” Crist said. “What I’ve appreciated about my working relationship with UW-Platteville is that it’s providing connections for students that wouldn’t be able to make those connections on their own.”

This upcoming spring, Crist’s students will connect with Haslauer’s education students every Monday. This one-on-one time will allow the Darlington students to develop their English conversational skills further. Crist said that by breaking down language barriers, this new opportunity will benefit students from both sides of the conversation.

“Hopefully, we help our students connect with people who are currently in the university and also to help practice their language. But also, we are helping equip their teachers with great teaching strategies and best practices when working with multilingual students. So it’s a win-win for everybody.”

To learn more about the opportunities available through the UW-Platteville School of Education, visit

Written by Stephen Kelley

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