February 10, 2017 Fund Program

Adopting a Dual Language Program with Support from a Fellow Principal

Today’s news post is guest authored by Karime Asaf, Principal of Moos Elementary School.

I’ve been the proud principal of Moos Elementary School for four years. The students at Moos, which is located in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, are diverse and represent the rich community we have in our city. This year, the district considers nearly 30 percent of my students as being English Learners. These students will go through the Transitional Bilingual Program and will eventually be moved to an English-only classroom.

After much reflection and recognizing the needs of my students and our school community, we have started the journey of adopting a full dual-language program at Moos.

The journey began about three years ago during a conversation Olimpia Bahena and I were having while leaving a summer conference about my desire to better support my students. Olimpia – someone I consider a mentor and dear friend — is an experienced practitioner whose school, Talcott Fine Arts Academy, has been a dual-language school for more than 10 years and has achieved amazing results for the students and the school community.

After listening to me, Olimpia recommend that I apply to become a dual-language school with the district. I took her advice, and when the opportunity arose to join her PLC – focused on supporting bilingual education programs – I quickly seized it. I knew that I could continue to learn from Olimpia, an expert in this area, and from my colleagues who are also working to support and enrich their students in this area. Continuing the Dual Language journey has been a lot more manageable with the support from Olimpia, my colleagues, and the Moos Team. We will be ready for the official roll out of the program in the fall!

The structure of the PLC has been impactful. Ms. Amy Weiss, our Dual Language Coordinator, and I have actionable tools and techniques to bring back to our school, including modified versions of learning walks and lesson studies.

The dual language program is not just for our Spanish-speaking students. Every student benefits from being bilingual. It’s important to add a language for students who do not come in speaking Spanish, as well as connecting to the International Baccalaureate (IB) values that our school has adopted as an IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) school.

As an immigrant to the United States, I understand the importance of preserving your culture and language while building on that and learning a new culture and language. I’m excited to pass that lesson and experience on to our students.