Southampton Elementary School has been officially recognized by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport in Spain as an International Spanish Academy school, meaning students can work to attain fluency in the language with assistance from the Spanish Embassy.
At a Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night, the board recognized the achievement, saying that it will have a positive impact on all students in the district. The district is also working to have the intermediate and high school certified in the program.
Students who enroll in the International Spanish Academy will work to earn a certificate from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport in Spain, stating that they have completed bilingual courses through the program, according to the Ministry of Education website. Students will work to become competent in Spanish by taking core class lessons in both English and Spanish, and the ministry says the certification will open doors for them when they apply to colleges and begin their careers.
“One of the big benefits of this program is being able to have visiting Spanish teachers to the district from Spain,” said Nicholas Dyno, assistant superintendent for instruction, at the meeting. “These are high-quality teachers from the Ministry of Spain that would come to the district at a reduced cost to help teach our students. We are really excited about that and hopefully soon we will be able to bring the first of those teachers to us.”
According to Mary Jane Greenfield, director of ESL and the dual language program at Southampton, some of the perks of the International Spanish Academy are having access to language and culture assistants, continuing education summer courses in Spain for teachers and administrators, cultural exchanges with Spanish schools, scholarships for continuing education and professional development for teachers at Spanish universities, and free or significantly reduced costs for valuable testing and evaluation materials.
The elementary school was officially admitted into the International Spanish Academy program on November 26 at a ceremony at the Laboratory School of Finance and Technology in the Bronx. The ceremony coincided with Queen Sofia of Spain’s visit to New York, and she attended the event, during which elementary school Principal Dr. Bertha Richard gave a presentation about the importance of multicultural education and language proficiency in today’s shrinking world and global economy.
“I want to congratulate all of the students and their parents for all of the hard work they have put into this,” board member Christina Strassfield said during the meeting.