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OKLAHOMA CITY – A Hollywood star is leading an effort to help Oklahoma City schools recruit bilingual teachers who live more than 2,200 miles away.

The Oklahoma City Public Schools district (OKCPS) needs spanish speaking teachers to keep up with the ever-growing hispanic population.

Actress Lymari Nadal, who starred alongside Denzel Washington in the movie “American Gangster,” loves Oklahoma so much, she moved here.

“I wasn’t born in Oklahoma, but Oklahoma was born in me,” she said.  “I came here to do a film.  First day, I knew it was instant love.”

Nadal’s daughter goes to school here, so she has a vested interest in helping improve education.

At a dinner a year ago, she learned OKCPS needed spanish speaking teachers and wanted to help.

Lymari knows a few of those teachers – being from Puerto Rico.

“I said ‘we need them all’,” OKCPS Board Chairperson Lynne Hardin said.

The hispanic population of OKC is outgrowing the district’s ability to teach them.

So a team went to Puerto Rico last fall and offered jobs to 40 teachers.

Nadal paved the way.

“She’s got the connections and she’s got the credibility and she had already built an educational program in her country long before she came here,”
Hardin said.  “This has been a gift for us.  No question.”

“We’re bringing teachers that have masters (degrees), PhD’s, and they speak two languages fluently,” Nadal said.

Heronville Elementary Principal Leon Hill hopes to have his students speaking english completely by the third grade.

“If we can have teachers that understand the culture, understand the language, and can teach my children, then I’m ready for that right now,” Hill

“I am grateful to be part of making Oklahoma better by cultural diversity,” Nadal said.  “By bringing great prepared teachers to the city.”

As of now, 31 teachers from Puerto Rico have accepted the offer and will be in OKC in August.

You can look for Lymari Nadal in her latest film – The Blackout.