West Riverside Elementary is the latest JUSD school to adopt the Dual Immersion (DI) program. The district’s six DI schools integrate high levels of proficiency in bilingualism and multicultural competency. Dual Immersion programs at JUSD continue to meet the community's needs.
Currently, the program at West Riverside is open for transitional kindergarten and kindergarten students. As the current students move up grade levels, the program will grow until they promote to 6th grade. They will then have the opportunity to continue at Jurupa Middle School and Patriot High School. Upon successful completion of the program through high school, students will be awarded a Seal of Biliteracy on their High School diplomas, demonstrating that they are bilingual in both Spanish and English.
Elsa Buenrostro, transitional kindergarten teacher, feels very fortunate to be able to teach in the DI program at West Riverside. “I absolutely love teaching in Spanish. [My students] are very young, they're four years old, and I enjoy speaking to them in Spanish,” she said. Ms. Buenrostro volunteered to teach in the program after teaching in English for many years.
Learning a new language is more feasible when students are very young in comparison to older students or even adults. Karla Zermeño, a first-year kindergarten bilingual teacher, believes that her job as a teacher is to set the foundation for students to have the skills to learn both languages to the fullest extent. “You can't build huge skyscrapers without the right foundation… That's what I am doing for them right now. Going back to the basics, the fundamentals of the language,” said Ms. Zermeño about her goals for her soon-to-be bilingual kindergarteners.
Expanding this Dual Immersion program in an elementary school is also laying the needed foundation for more students to enroll and continue in the program until graduation.
This program is not only beneficial to students who want to learn Spanish as a second language, but also to students whose first language is Spanish. Martha Gomez, Director of Language Services, had this to say about the new Dual Language Immersion program at West Riverside Elementary School: “It is an additive program that allows all students to keep their primary language and add a second one. Our community has known and valued this program and has been asking for more schools to offer the program.”
Ms. Buenrostro also believes that Dual Immersion not only benefits JUSD students but also the community. “It will give [our students] a great opportunity to communicate with our community because a large part of them speak Spanish and to be able to speak, read, and write in both languages is essential here,” she said.
To learn more about the Dual Immersion program at JUSD, please visit the district's Dual Immersion webpage