Yesterday was a very big day for the students in Trip Elementary’s Dual Language Immersion program.
After all, it’s not everyday that you get to host Georgia’s most influential educator.
The 56 students of Trip’s French DLI program were hosts to Georgia State Superintendent of Schools Richard Woods. Woods, along with State Senator Gloria Butler, State Representative Joyce Chandler, State Board of Education member Mike Royal, Gwinnett Board of Education member Carol Boyce, and several representatives from Gwinnett County Public Schools sat in on the two DLI classes to observe how the pilot program runs at Trip.
The day began on the television: Woods joined Trip’s principal, Dr. Rukina Walker, in addressing the students via Trip’s televised morning announcements. Woods and Walker were also joined by Boyce and Royal.
Afterward, the delegation moved to a conference room where Gwinnett County’s director of Foreign Languages, Jon Valentine, prepared the visitors for their visit to the class.
“When it comes to foreign languages,” Valentine said, “what we’re looking at is ‘can do’ skills – what can these children do right now with the skills they have. And I think you’ll be amazed.”
Woods and the delegation then sat in as Shannon Hayes, the French-speaking teacher of the program, led students through a calendar exercise and into a science lesson on seeds and plants. Students interacted with Hayes on a number of points, using the French language almost seamlessly. When a student struggled to find the correct word, Hayes would ask the students for help. The visiting adults were blown away.
“I was amazed,” said Senator Butler. “I even found myself trying to speak the language along with them.”
The visitors went across the hall to sit in on a lesson from Janelle Jones, who was leading students in English through a vocabulary exercise built around the facts about live oak trees. Students eagerly raised their hands as Jones called them to the front, where they utilized the classroom’s SmartBoard technology to move different words to the True or False column.
Superintendent Woods and other guests laughed as the students displayed their knowledge of blending consonant sounds, blended vowel sounds, and the facts about Live Oak trees in general. After leaving the classroom, the visitors reassembled in the school’s conference room to debrief, and the consensus was unanimous: the DLI program at Trip is pretty special.
“What we’re talking about here,” said Superintendent Woods, “is amazing. I tell people all the time, when it comes to education, we’re not in the business of making widgets; we see these children as individual pieces of art.”
The Dual Language Immersion Program at Trip Elementary is now accepting applications for the 2015-2016 school year. You can find all of the information regarding the program and registration online at the Trip website.