Parents have asked for this for some time now, so we’re pleased to announce that after much consideration, Holland Christian Schools is launching a Spanish Immersion program at our Rose Park Elementary campus! Starting next fall, for the 2018-2019 school year, we will be adding a single section of 3-year-old Spanish Immersion (SI) preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays, a single section of SI 4-year-old preschool on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and a single 5-day SI kindergarten section to our already established programs. We plan to continue to add a single section of consecutive grades each year, through 5th grade by 2023.
Why now, you may be wondering? A couple of reasons: Spanish Immersion fits with the current diversity priorities of the HC Board of Trustees and HC’s 5-year School Improvement Plan, both of which advocate for greater diversity in ethnicity, socioeconomics, and learning differences at Holland Christian. “Learning and valuing the language, customs, and culture of a different group of people orients your heart in a humble posture, and immersion education accomplishes that from a very young age,” said Dan Meester, HC Superintendent. An SI program “would place overt respect and value on a cultural group different from the one HC has historically served,” and we believe that “even the students who wouldn’t be participating in the immersion classes would have greater exposure to people who look and speak differently, which would broaden their perspectives.”
A second reason: Over the last 10 years, immersion education has proven its staying power and benefits. The immersion approach is not just a fad, and local schools, both public and private, are putting increased resources toward the approach, with very positive outcomes. We are currently in our fourth year of SI maintenance at HCHS, so our seniors who came through Zeeland Christian’s K-8 immersion program have experienced four more years of similar learning in the collaboration between HCHS and Hope College. We’ve been able to research and document its positive outcomes, and after investing our time and resources into the high school immersion maintenance program, feel ready to cycle back and add in Spanish immersion in the elementary grades. An additional section of immersion students entering HCHS each year would allow for even more robust variety in the course offerings in the future SI curriculum at the high school level.
And finally, we are grateful to have the help, wisdom and experience of Zeeland-based add.a.lingua to undergird our program–a national organization that did not exist even 10 years ago.
“Spanish Immersion is another effective way to prepare our students well for the kind of world in which they live and work, interacting and collaborating with many different people wherever they may be, as well as around the world,” said Rod Brandsen, principal at Rose Park. “Even more, Spanish Immersion further equips our students to carry out the Gospel mission to which we are called as Christ’s disciples, namely, to join God in cultivating shalom amidst the chaos we find in our world.”
Drumroll please…. We’re thrilled to introduce you to our preschool and kindergarten Spanish Immersion teachers for 2018-19!
Meet Maestra Hillary Klipp-Lopez
Kindergarten Spanish Immersion Teacher
I am excited to be part of the Spanish Immersion team next year at Holland Christian! Originally from the Boston area, I studied at Grove City College in western Pennsylvania, where I got my B.A. in English and Spanish. During that time, I studied abroad for a semester in Seville, Spain, and I also did summer mission work in Reynosa, Mexico, where I moved after graduating from college. In Mexico, I worked for two years at an international school, where I taught various subjects and grade levels. I also married my husband, Miguel, there in 2009, and we moved over the border to McAllen, Texas in 2010.
In Texas, I spent three years working at IDEA Public Schools, a charter school system serving the community of the Rio Grande Valley and other cities in Texas. I then left the public school system to teach adult ESL at South Texas College for three years. During this time, my husband and I welcomed daughter Anaiah in 2013 and son Isaac in 2015.
In the summer of 2016, we moved back up north to be closer to family (and experience seasons again!). After a 12-day, 12-state road trip, we arrived in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, where I began to work towards my Master’s degree in Language Education. After a whirlwind year, I finished my degree and my family decided to relocate again to Holland in the fall of 2017. I spent the first half of the year teaching Spanish to grades K-7 at South Side, Pine Ridge, and HCMS. In February, I was asked to move to the high school and teach Spanish 2 and a Spanish Immersion class. I have thoroughly loved working with students of all ages this year and getting to know the Holland Christian community!
My family is deeply committed to promoting bilingualism and biculturalism here in Holland as well as on a global scale. We have been actively involved in the launch of Engedi Español, a new ministry to the Hispanic community of Holland. Also, our own two children will be part of the preschool and kindergarten founding classes in the Spanish Immersion program next year. I look forward to sharing my love of language and culture with my future kindergarteners and their families!
Meet Maestra Perla DeLeon
3-Year-Old and 4-Year-Old Spanish Immersion Preschool Teacher
I graduated from Valle del Bravo University in my native country of Mexico with a B.A. in Communications. For the last 20 years I have served in a variety of capacities within the early childhood education field that included positions with Head Start and CASA programs at Hope College. I also spent several years teaching preschool in the Spanish Immersion program at Zeeland Christian. Most recently I have served as the Spanish FLES teacher at Rose Park for the last four years.
I am truly grateful for the opportunity to teach my native language of Spanish to the students at Holland Christian. I love worshiping God not only with my voice and hands but with my life as well. Each day I greet students with the realization that God has a plan and a purpose for their lives (Jeremiah 29:11) and I cherish the opportunity to have a small part in that plan by showing them the love of God in a practical and tangible way.
I have three children ages 12, 9, and 7 who all attend Rose Park. My husband is also a teacher and soccer coach. I am an active member of Holland First Assembly of God Church where I also teach Sunday school and serve as youth group leader. In my spare time I enjoy drawing, scrapbooking, photography, and spending time with family and friends!
Interested in Spanish Immersion for your kids, but need a little outside research to persuade you it truly is a good idea? That your kids could possibly “fare better in the job market,” could be “more likely to demonstrate empathy and problem solving skills”? There are a raft of well-researched articles out there, but here’s a decent online list to start with: