District 27 explores holding elementary Spanish classes
Updated: September 3, 2012 12:35PM
Northbrook Students at Hickory Point and Shabonee elementary schools may be able to take Spanish classes during the upcoming school year.
The schools’ Parent Teacher Association, which has been researching a way to offer after-school sessions for those who would like them, wants to sponsor Language Stars teachers to offer sessions at the schools after regular hours.
Katharine Olson, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, on July 26 told School District 27’s Board of Education about the project.
The program would start either in late October or early January, and continue through April or May, Olson said.
The sessions would cost $18 each, with discounts available, she added.
The classes, which would run 45 minutes each, would take place twice a week with 10 to 14 students at each session.
“The PTA worked hard on this and it was very well researched. Members conducted a world language survey this spring. A total of 578 families were sent a survey and 186 responded – a 32 recent response rate – which is very good,” Olson said.
More than 86 percent indicated they would be interested in a fee-based extra curricular program, and the majority selected Spanish as their choice, she added.
PTA members then researched four language schools comparing: costs, refund policies, years in business, number of teachers and the number of Chicago area schools in which they are working.
They also looked into: the teachers’ experience, training required, the language model, make-up policies, teaching material, class sizes and insurance policies to confirm they comply with district requirements.
The PTA members conducted extensive phone conversations and had at least one face-to-face meeting with each vendor, as well as visiting their sites.
Language Stars of Deerfield became the PTA’s choice, because of its flexibility. It also offers full immersion in the language during the class and educators who teach their native languages, Olson said.
“The goals would be to build a love of language and begin exposure to it at an early age. Then in sixth grade, they would start on grammar,” she added.
The board took a consensus of its members, which indicated they were in favor, though some District 27 officials had a few concerns.
Among them were that the sessions presented no additional work for the principals, nothing would be broken in the classrooms that were used, and the district would not take on liability because of the after-school sessions.
“The PTA is sponsoring this, not the district,” Olson said.
“But there is always the possibility that someone will try to look at the fact that it’s in our classrooms,” said Superintendent David Kroeze.
Olson said that she expected that all the concerns to be addressed before the sessions began.
Melissa Koren, the incoming PTA president, said she wanted to make certain that the PTA would have access to any complaints against language teachers in their native countries before they were brought into the district schools.
She also also noted that it was important that the right teachers were chosen so the students were taught the proper diction and inflection.
Cynthia Nadig, the outgoing PTA president, added that she was in favor of the program, because it will offer children exposure to another language at an early age.
“It will also promote an understanding of each other,” she added.
Juliana White, representing Shabonee School, added that she was pleased to see the team effort that took to bring foreign language into the schools.