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Interest meetings this week for new dual language immersion programs at two schools

July 24, 2017

New programs at a pair of west Hillsborough County elementary schools are preparing students for life, or said another way, preparando estudiantes para la vida.

Building off a dozen years of success at Alexander Elementary School, Bellamy Elementary and Crestwood Elementary schools are launching dual language immersion programs where select kindergarten students will learn in both English and Spanish.

The schools are seeking both English-dominant and Spanish-dominant students for the program.

“This promotes students becoming bilingual and biliterate,” said Crestwood Principal Diane Sanchez-Aliakbarian. “Research shows these students have more opportunities in their lives.”

Participating students will learn content in both languages. At both Bellamy and Crestwood, 36 kindergarten students will enter the program, with the goal of adding a new cohort of students each year until it extends through fifth grade. Students will develop proficiency in their second language, while maintaining and enhancing their first language.

“Bilingual learners show greater cognitive flexibility, problem solving and higher order thinking skills,” said Melissa Morgado, supervisor for world language instruction. “In addition, English learners have the opportunity to make significant progress on grade-level instruction.”

Dr. Francine Lazarus, principal at Bellamy, said teachers have studied other successful programs throughout the state to prepare. The aim is to promote cultural and linguistic exchanges among the students, and to empower students to become bilingual, biliterate and bicultural individuals who will be successful members of a global society.

Parent involvement will be critical to the support of the program, and the payoff will be worth it. In Florida, graduates who can demonstrate proficiency receive a special biliterate seal on their diplomas.

Said Kristina Alvarez, the principal of Alexander Elementary School: “As we prepare our students for life, being fluent in other languages makes you more marketable for the workforce.”

Parents may apply via school choice to enroll in the Bellamy program, and via choice hardship at Crestwood. Informational meetings are planned for Bellamy at the Town ’N Country Regional Library (7606 Paula Drive, Suite 120) on July 27 at 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. In addition, Crestwood will host informational meetings 2:30-3 p.m. on July 24, July 25 and July 26.

For more information, contact Bellamy at (813) 872-5387 or Crestwood at (813) 872-5374.

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