The Newhall School District completed its dual-immersion information meetings this week, which prompted district officials and local residents to rave about the upcoming program expected to begin later in 2019.
“We started talking about (a dual immersion program) a couple years ago,” and tried to decide when would be the right time to move forward with it, said Dee Jamison, NSD’s assistant superintendent of instructional services. “As time moved on, we had more parents asking about a program,” and — at the same time — teachers and new hires were asking about it, as well.
During the meetings, Superintendent Jeff Pelzel said, we heard parents have been asking for this for years, and we had grandparents there who said they can remember asking for the program 15 to 20 years ago, and they appreciate the fact that Newhall is embarking on this.”
Sandra Smith, a mother with two sons at Meadows Elementary School and an incoming transitional kindergartner who will start later this year, was one of the hundreds of parents from various district schools who showed up to this week’s educational meetings.
“I think what stood out for me was the stats they used to show the success of the students,” Smith said. “Just being able to see an actual dual immersion program happening and seeing the stats and the effects was the most impactful thing to me.”
The students seemed to be doing much better academically, Smith said, which was something Jamison touched on during her presentation.
“Dual immersion is an opportunity for our native English speakers and our native Spanish speakers to truly develop equal levels of proficiency in two languages,” Jamison said prior to this week’s meetings. The data shows that reclassified English learners outperform their English-only speaking peers in almost every subject area.
Smith, who is fluent in two languages, said she likes the prospect of her children being able to participate in a dual immersion program, but the mother of three said she wasn’t sure if her youngest would participate in the program in the future.
“I was just there for the information,” Smith said, adding that she was impressed by Monday’s well-spoken and informed presentation discussing the selection process and other program information.
Smith said the district discussed using a type of lottery system to determine the children who enter the dual immersion program, “but they sounded like they wanted to have a nice representation of children from every school.”
“Most of my questions were answered during the presentation,” Smith said, mentioning that she thinks it sounds like an amazing program.
The link to apply to NSD’s dual immersion program is available online at the district website, where it will remain until Feb. 8, Pelzel said. Those who were unable to attend one of this week’s informational meetings should attend the district’s open house event Jan. 31, which will feature discussions about dual immersion and opportunities to discover additional programs that are available in the district, as well.
The Saugus Union School District is also planning dual immersion informational meetings for parents who are interested in its planned dual immersion program, according to its website. The first meeting will occur at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29.