Sign-ups open April 1 for competitive Spanish Immersion pilot program |
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Tawnya Panizzi

Fox Chapel Area will open registrations on April 1 for the district’s new Spanish Immersion pilot program where at least 80 percent of instruction will be delivered in the foreign language.

It will be limited to one class of 25 students — 2019-20 first-graders — pulled from all four of the district’s elementary schools.

The program will be filled by a random selection process.

Each school will receive a number of spaces based on enrollment at each building, officials said.

Classes will be held at Kerr Elementary along Kittanning Pike and students from O’Hara, Hartwood and Fairview elementaries will be bused there.

Ashley Constantine, district executive director of elementary education and instruction, touted the program as one of a kind.

“We wanted to offer a program that was completely unique to Western Pennsylvania that would give our students an edge academically,” Constantine said.

Most instruction will be provided in Spanish. Constantine said 80 to 100 percent of teaching will be done in the foreign language except for special classes such as art and music.

Goals of the program, she said, are to promote high levels of achievement and develop age-appropriate language acquisition.

Classes also aim to cultivate cross-cultural competencies in students, she said.

Second-grade teacher Alexis Bergau will instruct the fledgling class.

She brings an extensive background in Spanish, having studied in Mexico and served as a student-teacher in a mostly Spanish-speaking school, the Ada Vista Spanish Immersion School in Ada, Mich.

She’s also taught Spanish at Pittsburgh Public Schools and at La Escuelita Arcoiris, an early childhood Spanish immersion school in Squirrel Hill.

Eventually, district plans call for the program to be offered to students in first through fifth grades.

A new class of first-graders is expected to be added in 2020-21 after the inaugural class becomes second-graders.

To be eligible, English must be the primary language spoken in the student’s home.

Sign-ups continue through May 17, and selections will be made June 6. For more, email Constantine at [email protected].

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