Parent Teacher Magazine Union County Public Schools March/April 2019 - Page 5

Educators from across the country learn best practices from UCPS Dual Language Immersion schools UCPS is home to the most dual language immersion schools in the state, with 14 elementary and middle schools offering programs in Mandarin or Spanish to more than 1,300 students. That’s why on Feb. 6, dozens of educators from across the country traveled to Union County to catch a glimpse of the district’s successful Dual Language Immersion program in action. As part of the International Conference on Immersion and Dual Language Education, the visitors spent the day visiting Spanish immersion classes at Shiloh, Sun Valley and Unionville elementary schools. “We attended this conference because we wanted to learn more about what schools outside of our area are doing and what their challenges were with implementing dual immersion programs,” said Dr. Jose Montano, principal of Andrew Jackson Elementary in Indio, California, as he stood in Unionville Elementary’s media center. “We’re going to offer a 90-10 Dual Language Immersion program at our school in 2019-20. My team has never seen a program like this so I wanted us to come and see it together.” For several hours, the visitors walked the halls of the three elementary schools and observed dual language immersion classes at every grade level. Throughout the tour, some of the visitors stopped often to speak with teachers and students while others quickly jotted notes and took pictures or video as they watched the classroom instruction. Additional panel discussions with students and teachers at Unionville Elementary as well as a question and answer session at Sun Valley Elementary also provided the visitors with an opportunity to ask a number of questions on topics that ranged from implementation to testing to any hiccups experienced throughout the duration of the program at their respective schools. “I was really impressed with the level of Spanish the students were speaking and the grammatical accuracy with what they were speaking,” Avenues New York teacher Julie Yankowitz said at the end of the panel discussion. “My school is a 50-50 dual language immersion program and they don’t get as much time in the target language, so that is something that I’m definitely hoping to bring back home.” With Unionville Elementary being one of only two schools in the state to achieve the NC Model Global-Ready School distinction, and Sun Valley and Shiloh elementary schools expanding their dual language immersion programs to the middle school level this school year, the International Conference provided UCPS with the perfect opportunity to put its successful dual language immersion programs on a national stage. At the end of the day, UCPS Director of College Readiness and Innovation Jessica Garner said she hoped attendees saw that wide global focus that students have in Dual Language Immersion programs. “I hope our schools were able to showcase their amazing school leaders, teachers and students. I also hope that they were able to share the message that while dual language is certainly a program, the teachers and students are integrated into the school as a whole,” she said. “We wanted the attendees to see the power of Dual Language Immersion and the impact it can have on students, families and the community.” Parent Teacher Magazine • Mar/Apr 2019 • 3