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High school graduate teaches elementary school through CMS early college program

CHARLOTTE — One Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools graduate is already making an impact on the students she teaches -- and herself, too.

Landy Solorzano, a CMS early college student and teacher assistant at Hickory Grove Elementary School, finished high school early to jumpstart her career in education. She graduated in May.

“In CMS, you can start applying for a teacher assistant position as long as you have an associate’s degree or equivalent, or a high school degree or equivalent. That’s how I started working in CMS while also being in CMS,” said Solorzano.

Solorzano -- of Mexican and Guatemalan descent -- is the only Hispanic teacher at Hickory Grove. She said she tries to learn the different Spanish dialects so she can connect with all students.

“We have a lot of kids who come straight from their country. And they kind of just show up, and they tell me, ’Yeah, I just came from El Salvador two days ago,’ or, ‘I just came six months ago,’ or, ‘I came during the summer,’” said Solorzano.

Most of the students can’t speak English and often don’t understand the language.

In next year’s budget, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools requested $3.7 million so they can hire more English-learning teachers and create a special academy that would open in fall 2023.

“There needs to be more training,” said Solorzano. “Besides the money, you just really have to be there for those kids. I think that’s why I’m so passionate about teaching.”

>> In the video at the top of the page, Channel 9′s Gina Esposito spoke to Solorzano more about her plans for teaching.

(WATCH BELOW: Julius L. Chambers HS student pushes through obstacles to reach graduation)