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Dual Immersion: Powerful and Relevant This year GUSD will continue and expand the Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) program at Eliot and Glenview Elementary schools, and begin the program in three more schools, Antonio Del Buono, El Roble and Rucker.  According to the Sobrato Organization, more than 25 percent of youth entering Santa Clara County’s public schools are English language learners and historically, they’ve encountered higher dropout rates than their English-speaking classmates. Sobrato developed the program to help teachers address this challenge. Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) pro- vides a model of teacher development and program design to help kindergarten through third grade students achieve age- appropriate literacy in English and Spanish, and grade- level mastery of academic material. SEAL is also aligned with Common Core standards. Superintendent Flores described SEAL as “a rigorous, high-quality program” and added that Sobrato Philanthropies contributed “a large part of the funds to implement the program in kindergarten through third grade classes” at GUSD elementary schools. Glen View’s Principal, Corina Sapien, said the SEAL program has been transformational.  “When I walk into classrooms I see students interacting, conducting investigations, creating art, and most of all, I see their joy. We have redefined our expectations about what kindergarten and first grade students can do. They are learning material and vocabulary that many of us once learned in middle or high school. The true test of a student’s learning is the ability to explain or teach what they’ve learned to others, and that is exactly what our kids do.  At the end of each unit, parents are invited to the classroom to be ‘taught’ by their children.  It’s amazing to see our young students teaching their parents about the food chain and using words like phytoplankton and exoskeleton!”    There was a time when public perception was that dual immersion was a “nice to have” element in our schools. Some considered it a burden on the education system. The reality, especially for California, is quite the opposite. By ethnicity, close to 40 percent of our state’s total population is Hispanic- Latino (of any race), making it our largest single ethnic group. Spanish is the state’s second most spoken language. And language is fundamental to all learning. When we put things in proper context, it’s easy to see that dual immersion schools benefit our students, their families, our communities and our workforce. GUSD schools in the Dual Immersion Program have implemented a 50/50 model whereby all students are immersed in English for half the day and in Spanish for the other half of the day. The focus is on communication, cooperation and collaboration as teachers provide instruction and students learn in two languages. As a result of this program, the Academic Performance Index shows continuously increased achievement scores in English for over ten years. Every year, the California School Boards Association (CSBA) recognizes educational programs that exemplify highly-effective governance, teaching, and student learning through its Golden Bell Award program. CSBA recognized GUSD for achievement in K-12 dual immersion programs for 2015-16. GUSD school principals receiving the prestigious award were: Silvia Reyes, Las Animas Elementary; Luis Carrillo, Rod Kelley Elementary; Anisha Munshi, South Valley Middle School; and Marco Sanchez, Gilroy High School. Dr. Deborah Flores, Superintendent of the Gilroy Unified School District, received the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) “Superintendent of the Year” Award (2016).  She will receive her award at ACSA’s annual Leadership Summit in San Diego, November 10-12, 2016 26 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 gmhtoday.com MORGAN Sobrato Early Academic Language Program