Isenberg dual language program continuing during shutdown, recruiting for next year

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 24, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SALISBURY – Dual language immersion is a renewal project Isenberg Elementary School took on at the beginning of this school year. The program began with two kindergarten classes, alternating between one teacher providing English curriculum and another teaching in Spanish.

The state-wide public school shut down has affected every district in the state, and Rowan-Salisbury Schools has moved most of its instruction to devices issued by the schools. Schools can not host regular meetings either, so the teachers and administration at the school have had to adapt to running the program around the shut down.

IES Principal Marvin Moore said the school is hosting weekly virtual meetings for parents interest in the program every week. The first classes began in kindergarten, and will move on to first grade within the program while two new kindergarten classes begin. Eventually grades K-5 at the school will have cohorts of dual language students.

“Once we started [recruiting], COVID hit,” Moore said. “So we really couldn’t push it out and we’re doing those information sessions.”

The sessions are 12-1:30 p.m. and 6-7:30 p.m. each Wednesday.

Heather Nardone, the teacher for the English half of the program, said now that teachers are giving virtual assignments and have had to learn to give students some leeway, coordinating giving English and Spanish assignments in equal measure.

Nardone said the decision to make each Wednesday after spring break was helpful.

“I find that virtual teaching is a different kind of work and it’s maybe more time consuming,” Nardone said.

There are weekly progress reports, but Nardone said it is much harder to reach a student virtually, and teachers are trying to make sure parents can access the information they need to help students.

“I think on both ends across the board there are parents who are easily accessible and ready to do it and manage it,” Nardone said. “On the other end of the spectrum it was a constant daily ‘have you heard from that student, are they ok?'”

Nardone said some students are progressing quickly, reading first grade books and she believes students in the program will rise to the top.

Sandra Yepez, who teaches the Spanish half of the program, said she is still calling and checking in on families.

Isenberg has a focus on multiculturalism and calls itself a global school. Moore noted COVID-19 is a global issue, with a number of countries still struggling COVID-19 like the U.S.

“This does affect what we talk about with multiculturalism, ethnicity, empathy and getting people to understand all those things,” Moore said. “It hits every class.”

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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