Cale Elementary School

Cale Elementary School sits just south of town, on Avon St Ext. When Cale was opened in 1990, Avon St Ext was much sleepier than it now. Development that has occurred since then includes the connector road between 20 south and Avon St, the Food Lion, Lake Renovia, Foxcroft, Mill Creek, Monticello High School. Once you drove past the jail and the armory on Avon St Ext, you were in a rural and light industrial area, not the residential townside that Avon St now is.
Cale’s district now pulls from the one of the most densely populated pockets of the county. Besides all of the previously named subdivisions, Cale also pulls from Southwood, a 100 acre trailer park housing 1,500 residents that Habitat for Humanity purchased. Habitat has been improving the infrastructure of Southwood over the past few years, with plans to redevelop into mixed-income housing.
Cale has been implementing a World Languages Program for several years now. Selected kindergarteners begin their studies in a 50/50 English/Spanish program, and continue as they matriculate through their elementary years. Currently, third graders are the oldest students to be in the World Languages Program at Cale. The students receive 50% of their content instruction in English from one teacher and 50% in Spanish from another. As Principal Jones explained, 0-6 years old is when language centers in the brain are still developing and learning a language is the most natural and easiest. Because there are sufficient numbers of native Spanish speakers, it is possible at Cale to have a 50/50 classroom. Both native English and Spanish speakers benefit from this program by having literacy and fluency in two (or in some cases more) languages. Delaying language learning until high school, and only as an elective for selected students, does not result in students who can progress beyond “tourist” language levels.
I am often jealous of the students I work with who can speak multiple languages. I’ve observed that my students who can speak 4-5 languages from multiple language families– for instance, Swahili, Mai Mai, English and French– can pick up additional languages more easily than I or other English-only speakers. We do our students a disservice cognitively, culturally, and socially when we restrain them by not providing them with non-English instruction.
In the 50/50 model no additional staff expenses are incurred because two teachers teach two classes, each for 50% of the time. Additional costs are incurred in the form of purchasing instructional materials and in professional development. Professional development has been one of the budget line items cut system-wide as the school budget has been balanced. This creates a problem for both new programs, such as the World Languages Program, and existing teacher needs, such as meeting 5 year re-licensure requirements.

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