MCPS to Launch First Spanish Immersion Program - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

MCPS to Launch First Spanish Immersion Program

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This fall, Missoula County Public Schools are launching the state's first "public" Spanish immersion program.

Spanish immersion programs exist throughout the nation, and there is a private immersion program in Missoula already, but this is the first time public school students will have the option to take several of their courses in a foreign language.

The principal of the school said the goal is to help students develop their ability to work in multi-cultural settings.

"It's really time for public schools to start looking at adding additional languages to their programs," said Paxson Elementary School Principal, Kelly Chumrau.

For years, Chumrau and other Missoula County Public School Officials have been working to bring a language immersion program to the district.

"We're so isolated here in Missoula," Chumrau said. "We don't have much diversity as we much like, so learning another language gives you opportunity to learn about other places. "

They're work will finally have paid off this fall, when a Spanish language course opens to 40 students, 20 kindergartners and 20 first graders. The program will take students through fifth grade at Paxson Elementary School.

"It's really giving them a gift of an additional language which enriches their culture, their ability to know about the world," Chumrau said. 

The district looked at several different languages, but landed on Spanish.

"Spanish is the third most spoken language in the world, so it's an important language to know," Chumrau said. 

Instruction will be divided between two classrooms. An English-speaking teacher teaches language, arts and literacy skills, while another teaches Spanish literacy and mathematics.

"I think the more we can understand and embrace people from different places, the better our world will be," said Julie Lennox, the head of the Missoula International School.

The MIS is the only language immersion elementary school in the entire state, and Lennox said she knows first-hand, students benefit form these types of programs.

"I just think it's great we've been doing this for almost 20 years, and we know it's a really wonderful way for kids to learn," Lennox said.

She said this program comes at the right time, because her school is almost full.

"Parents really want their kids to learn in this way," Lennox said.

Families interested in the Spanish immersion program must apply by June 30. Students will be selected by a drawing this summer.

Chumrau also said no jobs will be lost with the addition of this program. An informational public meeting about the program will be held Wednesday night at 6 PM in the Paxson Elementary School gym.

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