Local Athens Elementary School Aims to Teach Students to be Bilingual, Biliterate

Athens–  Kindergarteners for the 2016-2017 school year at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School will have a curriculum of 80% taught in Spanish and only 20% in English. The principal of Oglethorpe Avenue, Dr. Scarlett Dunne is implementing the Dual Language Immersion program this upcoming August.

“We will teach them to do everything in Spanish first,” said Dunne. “They will learn to read in Spanish. They will learn to do math in Spanish. Everything will be done 80:20 in kindergarten, first and second grade. In third to fifth grade, we will move to a 50:50 model.”

Dr. Dunne says the goal of the program is to develop bilingual and biliterate students.

Other benefits that Dr. Dunne provided are: increased attention control, better memory, superior problem solving skills, enhanced understanding of their primary language, and greater cognitive flexibility. These conclusions came from Kathryn J. Lindholm-Leary’s 2001 study about Dual Language Education Programs.

Two native speaking Spanish teachers and two native Spanish speaking paraprofessionals will be hired to teach the two classes of kindergarten. Each year, the next grade will be added to the program and each year new native Spanish speaking teachers will be hired to teach each new grade level.

The teachers that are currently teaching the grade level shifting to the new program will either move up to another grade or will have the opportunity to teach at another Clarke county school

The school will be fully on this Dual Language Immersion program for the school year of 2021-2022.

This is the first dual language program in Clarke County. The upcoming Kindergarten class will be 44 students; 22 native English speakers and 22 native Spanish speakers. As of today, Dr. Dunne says that one class of 22 has already been filled. Registration for the 22 remaining spots ends May 2, 2016.


By Morgan Ainslie


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