Students Learning in Both English and Spanish

By: McKinsey Harris Email
By: McKinsey Harris Email

It's not the typical kindergarten schedule you're used to, but a group of students in Harrisonburg are taking all of their classes in both English and Spanish.

Staff at Smithland Elementary School updated the Harrisonburg School Board Tuesday night about the new dual-immersion program, which has about 40 students enrolled.

The students have half of their day all in English and half in Spanish.

It's meant for students who speak English as a second language, as well as for English-speaking students who want to learn Spanish.

Principal Gary Painter says, by the time these students finish the fourth grade, they'll be fluent in both languages.

"It's wonderful for them to understand where other children are coming from, appreciate different cultures. There's a great opportunity here in Harrisonburg, so people are jumping on the opportunity to get their children to appreciate other cultures to be more aware of diversity," says Painter.

Right now, the program is just available in kindergarten, but one more grade level will be added each year.


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