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.”
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: