Demand for Walla Walla Public Schools’ successful Dual Language program continues to grow fueling an expansion of two new kindergarten classes at Green Park Elementary next fall. The additional interest in the program was uncovered during a series of parent informational nights explaining the two-way Dual Language Program. Bilingual Department staff followed-up the informational meetings with interviews of prospective families with kindergarten students. Following the interview process, a total of 130 kindergarten students surfaced expressing interest in participating in the two-way Dual Language program next school year. Currently the district can only serve 80 kindergarteners at Edison Elementary, the district’s magnet school for Dual Language programming, prompting the move to expand offerings at Green Park.
“Our families understand language is power,” said Dr. Victor Vergara, Director of Bilingual Education and Latina/o Outreach. “The Bilingual Education Committee’s recommendation in 2017 stated if program interest outpaces what Edison can accommodate, then expansion to additional sites should be considered.”
The district’s Dual Language Program begins in kindergarten where students will spend the majority of the day learning through Spanish instruction. The percentage of English instruction increases as students progress through the program. The program model at Green Park will be identical to Edison in support of the district’s aligned and coherent direction. The Dual Language program utilizes the buddy system where native Spanish speakers are paired with native English speakers to advance their knowledge and skill set. This also promotes cultural diversity and respect among all students. Research shows Dual students typically outperform English-only students in the classroom by the end of their elementary years.
“Green Park Elementary has a rich history of bilingual education and has the physical space available to allow for four classrooms at every grade level,” said Vergara. “The size of the school permits for two classrooms to be dual and two classrooms to be traditional English-only. In addition, 29 of 130 students who showed interest already reside within the Green Park attendance area.”
The district is in the process of notifying families to secure their spot in the program. Human Resources is beginning the process to staff the Green Park Dual Language program. Those interested in learning more about the Dual Language Program are encouraged to contact the district’s Bilingual Education Department at (509) 526-6784.