H.O. Brittingham Elementary immersion students celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with displays and dances to recognize Hispanic and Latino American contributions to America’s history, heritage and culture.
Second-grade Spanish-speaking teacher Benny Rodriguez said students in kindergarten through second grade participated in a project to research different countries and create displays depicting what they learned, all in Spanish.
Kindergarten classes studied Mexico and Guatemala, first grade studied Spain and El Salvador, and second grade studied Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Rodriguez said each grade has two teachers, one English-speaking and one Spanish-speaking, and students spend half the day with each teacher.
“They are immersed in that language,” Rodriguez said. “They are sponges at this level. By the time they reach high school, they will be bilingual.”
Principal Ned Gladfelter said research shows students in dual-language programs score higher on standardized tests.
“There are cognitive benefits to the immersion program,” Gladfelter said. “Bilingual brains develop slightly differently - they have to think in both languages, so it’s fast-paced and their brains make more connections.”
The immersion program at HOB and Milton elementaries launched in the 2017-18 school year, and opened to other district schools the following school year. Beacon and Mariner middle schools began offering Spanish this fall.