Superintendent's Message, 1.16.19

Superintendent's Message, 1.16.19

Exciting Board of Education Approval to Share

One District 96 value that is truly descriptive of our approach to our work with your students is Best practice, not first practice.

We’re focused on preparing your students to succeed in their future education and careers, fostering opportunities for leadership and articulation, cultivating critical thinking skills, and developing digital citizens who use technology responsibly to inform and enhance their work.

To do so, as professional educators we must keep our gaze fixed on what will truly best serve students. For every major new initiative we undertake, we do our research, scrutinize data with staff, discuss with our Board of Education, and plan extensively for a smooth roll-out to address every potential scenario we can anticipate. In short, we do our homework!

I’m thrilled to inform you that our Board of Education has approved implementation of a Dual Language program in English/Spanish beginning this fall in the 2019–2020 school year.

Dual language education is shown to be effective for developing language proficiency and literacy in English and a partner language.

Our inaugural Dual Language program will be at Willow Grove Early Learning Center and will begin with selected students entering kindergarten in the 2019–2020 school year. Approximately 50 percent of the kindergartners selected to participate in the Dual Language program will come from homes where Spanish is spoken. Likewise, approximately 50 percent of the students participating in the Dual Language program will have had little to no experience with Spanish. For Dual Language program participants, 50 percent of academic day instruction will be delivered in Spanish and 50 percent of academic day instruction will be delivered in English. That is, all students in the program will receive instruction in both languages.

Parents of incoming kindergartners with interest in this program for their student are requested to complete an Interest Form and submit it to the Willow Grove Office no later than 3 PM on Fri., Mar. 22. Dual Language participants to fill two sections will be selected in a public lottery on Apr. 4 at Willow Grove.

Note that parents preregistering their kindergartners for the 2019–2020 school year will NOT be required to indicate their interest in Dual Language either at the time of preregistration or on the online registration form that will be sent to the parents of all returning District 96 students and preregistered kindergartners on March 1. They need only to submit their Interest Form no later than Mar. 22 and to complete and submit the registration form they will be sent on March 1 to be included in the Apr. 4 Lottery in which participants will be selected.

Students participating in the Dual Language program will continue in it through 8th grade. They will attend Country Meadows Elementary for Grades 1–5 and Woodlawn Middle School for Grades 6–8. Each academic year the model will remain the same, with 50 percent of the academic day instruction delivered in Spanish and the other 50 percent of the academic day instruction delivered in English.

We recognize that parents will have many questions about this program and its planned implementation in 2019–2020 and through Grade 8 for this inaugural class. Opportunities and resources to get more information include the following:

Willow Grove Preregistration Nights – Jan. 17 and Jan. 23, 5–7 p.m. at Willow Grove Early Learning Center. Administrators will be available to answer parents’ questions (no presentation)

Dual Language Parent Education Evenings – Feb. 6 and Feb. 12, 6:30–7:30 p.m. at Willow Grove Early Learning Center. Administrators will present info on the Dual Language program and answer questions

• District 96 Website Resources






Seeing this work culminate in this way is yet another reason I recognize I’m privileged to be your District 96 superintendent. From researching and observing the operation of dual language programs at high-performing benchmark schools to addressing myriad local logistics, a team comprising 24 highly qualified District 96 Board members, administrators, teachers, and academic coaches has devoted several years of diligent work to the development of this program. I salute them for their commitment to kids and look forward to seeing our students thrive in this new opportunity.

--Julie Schmidt, District 96 Superintendent of Schools