WCS set to launch dual language kindergarten class

WASHINGTON, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Washington Community Schools is launching a program to help better serve both its native English-speaking and native Spanish-speaking students.

The “dual-language immersion program” will be launched in partnership with Indiana University and will launch in the fall of 2023.

“We’ve been noticing a need in our community, our dual-language, our bilingual Spanish students have been continuing to raise in population here in our community so one thing we were looking to do was to find a way to support them more but also support our community more,” Tom Lee, Principal of Washington Primary School, said.

Read said this program will start with just a kindergarten class.

He explained half of the day will be taught in Spanish and the other half will be taught in English. Not only that, but half of the students in the class will be native English-speaking, and the other half will be native Spanish-speaking.

“Our goal for this program is what is called ‘bi-literate’. So that seems on the surface like a wordplay, bilingual/bi-literate, but it’s not when you dig into it. Biliterate means that you are bilingual so you can communicate in two languages ​​but it’s so much deeper than that. You can read, you can write, you can comprehend,” Lee said.

Kristen McGuire is currently a 1st-grade teacher at Washington Primary and will teach the English portion of the dual-language kindergarten class next year.

She said she’s been teaching for 11 years and says this has been a growing need in the Washington Community.

“In my previous school, 50% of my class was Spanish-speaking native and then all the other side was English-speaking. You continue to see the growth year after year and it’s definitely been a need for several years,” McGuire said.

After the first year, they will add a dual language class in the next grade level up so that students can continue the program throughout their entire educational career at Washington Community Schools.

“It’s not going to just benefit them right now but [also] our community. As you see them grow it’s going to help. Currently, yes in their schooling but then their post-careers from education if they go straight into the workforce, it just opens so many opportunities because they’re not just bilingual,” McGuire said.

An informational meeting will be held on January 30th at 6 pm at Washington Primary School.

Parents will be able to begin the application process at the meeting if they are interested in having their kindergartener in the class next year.

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