PINEVILLE, Ky. — Pineville Independent School begins its school year teaching Russian as one of the world’s languages.
What do you want to know
- Eastern Kentucky high school teaches students Russian
- Josh McDermott learned Russian while serving in the Navy
- Superintendent hired McDermott to teach a foreign language after their only Spanish teacher left
- The school district’s Spanish teacher returned to his home country due to immigration
In May, the school district’s Spanish teacher had to return to his home country due to his immigration status.
Since then, Superintendent Russell Thompson said they have been working to fill the position, but there has been a shortage of Spanish teachers.
“We’re going to do it twice. Farewell. Adios,” said Josh McDermott, who teaches Spanish and Russian at Pineville Independent.
Spanish is not McDermott’s first language, but at Pineville High School, McDermott teaches both languages.
“I asked to go back to class for Russian because I wanted to teach the foreign language,” McDermott said. “I said that if I was going to teach, I wanted to be interesting and I wanted to develop my Russian where I was fluent at some point.”
McDermott learned Russian while serving in the Navy. He is certified to teach Russian, currently being the only teacher in Kentucky to hold this title.
He goes to the University of Kentucky to study Russian as a graduate student.
“I was just the head of the world languages department at South Laurel High School, where I taught Russian for a few years, and we had two Spanish teachers,” McDermott said. “And we’ve had a Spanish teacher, as a substitute, for two years, maybe three, because there’s none to hire. So they’re looking for Spanish teachers and they just can’t find them.”
Last year, Pineville Independent School lost its Spanish teacher, Mr. Ernesto Garcia, due to misfiling of his documents by immigration.
“He was a very nice gentleman. I met him several times, he was very polite. But with the situation that happened…I didn’t come in, I’m not trying to replace him, you know” , McDermott said, “I’m trying to finish what he started in Spanish 2, then I’m moving on to Russian.”
Bringing Russian to rural eastern Kentucky to an entire class and teaching Spanish 2 to two students, McDermott aims to continue learning linguistics in Pineville.
“Make it fun and interesting and say, ‘Hey, we’re one of the few Russian classes in the state,'” McDermott said.
According to the Kentucky Department of Education, Spanish is taught in 14 elementary districts, 45 middle school districts, and 161 high schools.
Russian is taught in only one high school in the state.
According to the Kentucky Educator Placement Service website, nearly 40 jobs are listed for world languages. More than half are looking for Spanish teachers.