Tahoe parents introduced to Kings Beach two-way immersion program
February 27, 2010
KINGS BEACH, Calif.and#8212; Packed tightly in seats, standing against walls and wedged snugly around tables, a gathering of Spanish- and English-speaking parents and teachers met last week to discuss Kings Beach Elementaryand#8217;s two-way immersion program for English Learners.
Parents hosted the Thursday event at Kings Beach Elementary. After parents viewed the documentary and#8220;Speaking in Tongues,and#8221; which chronicles students in San Franciscoand#8217;s TWI programs, TWI teachers presented statistics and facts about the program.
and#8220;We wanted to make sure both English and Spanish speaking families understand the benefits for our community and just how immersion programs work,and#8221; said Sara Shorin, parent and co-coordinator for the event.
TWI is more than just a basic foreign language class, Shorin said, because it enrolls children at an early age in both a foreign-language and English-speaking class, with a goal of complete bilingualism by the time they exit.
and#8220;The reconfiguration last year involving two-way immersion became a topic on a lot of peopleand#8217;s minds, and there were a lot of misunderstandings,and#8221; said Kings Beach Elementary Principal Eileen Fahrner
She referred to last yearand#8217;s reconfiguration in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District that turned Kings Beach Elementary into a K-3 two-way, immersion-only program and Tahoe Lake Elementary as a K-3 English-only program, with North Tahoe Middle School compensating as a 4-8 site.
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and#8220;A few of the parents and I watched what went on for the past year, putting the schools together, and I felt every time I went to a district meeting there wasnand#8217;t an understanding of what goes on in Kings Beach,and#8221; said Souki Powell, the other co-coordinator of the event.
The night was organized by parents, for parents, Powell said, and saw more than 60 parents and teachers in attendance.
Jamie Schwartz, a second-grade teacher at the school, said while the program may not be for everyone, the event served as a way to remind parents there are choices when it comes to giving their children a bilingual education.
and#8220;Now thereand#8217;s quite a bit of research that children who learn in their primary language to access content in a second language have a higher learning curve,and#8221; she said. and#8220;We just want to be transparent about what weand#8217;re doing so people get the facts.and#8221;
Among the many parents sitting in the audience Thursday night at KBE was Pedro Brito, a Spanish speaker with two girls enrolled in the TWI program.
and#8220;I feel good after listening to the presentation, because both teachers and parents are searching for a way to help our students,and#8221; Brito said in Spanish.
He said heand#8217;s proud of his girls who now have the opportunities he wished heand#8217;d had growing up.
and#8220;This program is helping my girls not just in Spanish but in English as well and at an advanced leveland#8221; he said.
One day, Brito said he hopes his daughters will understand just how much theyand#8217;ve overcome and accomplished.
and#8220;Not everyone has this opportunity,and#8221; he said.
Anyone seeking information about the program can call the school at (530)-546-2605.