School board should lend its support to Spanish immersion

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In 2013, Wilson County Schools began the Spanish immersion program. Over the last 14 months, the community has banded together to support the program and the Spanish immersion teachers in an effort to ensure that the program continues and prospers. We have spoken at monthly Board of Education meetings, reached out personally to those members and have sought advice from other counties, legislators and businesspeople.

While much has been said about these students becoming bicultural, biliterate and bilingual, research indicates that there are many concrete academic benefits as well, including the ability to:

• Develop strong thinking skills

• Use logic

• Increase reading comprehension

• Understand math concepts and problems

• Cultivate greater cultural awareness

• Focus, remember and make decisions

• Increase brain development in areas that organize and process speech

In addition, research indicates that students get stronger the longer they remain in the program, and we are seeing that trend in Wilson as the first class is now in fourth grade. We have evidence from district benchmark assessments that our Spanish immersion students are outperforming their peers in traditional classrooms in both reading and math. We firmly believe that rather than considering the elimination of the program, our district leadership should be considering ways to further promote and expand the program so that additional students may reap these benefits.  

All of the surrounding counties, except Wayne County, now have dual language programs and see the value in this program. Our neighbors see the opportunities and benefits that Spanish immersion provides for their students and those districts are choosing to invest in the future. To put it simply, we don’t want our children in Wilson County to be left behind.

We recognize that innovation often starts small and takes time to get off of the ground; we have prime examples like the Wilson Academy of Applied Technology and Wilson Early College Academy in our district. We believe that given time, resources and support, the Spanish immersion program will yield benefits for the students currently enrolled in the program and the larger Wilson County Schools community. However, if our district continues to cut innovative programs, WCS will continue to lose families to other educational opportunities (private school, charter school and homeschool). The time is now for our district leaders to consider the future and vision of Wilson County Schools.  It is time to develop a comprehensive plan to fully support the implementation of the Spanish immersion program as one component of a move to re-engage the Wilson community and truly make Wilson County Schools the best choice for public education in Wilson.

Our hope is that during the April 16 meeting, the Board of Education will vote to continue this program in Wilson County. With their approval, Wilson County Schools can put a plan in place to ensure the success of Spanish immersion and more importantly, the success of our students.

Erin J. Day

Shelley Gibson

Helen Lofton

Kenneth Lofton

Tiara Lofton

Marcos and Krystal Alices

Sean Gibson

Demetrius and Patricia Harvey

Emily Blackwell

Reginald Harrison

Teleasha Edwards

John Edwards

Jennifer Harrison

Ashley Johnson

Stephanie Robl

Anna King

Jessica Satterfield

David and Kimberly Burris

Amanda Kessler

Chrisola Ham

Matt and Julie Rowe

Ryan and Susan Moss

Will and Mary Hunter Koster

Eric and Elizabeth Boyd

Arthur and Vivian Burke

Joey Lamm

Latasha Jones

Joseph and Erin Flowers

Brenda and Tommy Whittaker

Judy Rowe

Rhonda Wilson

Aaron Reed

Robert Satterfield

Britain Lamm

Julie Griffin

Brenda Bennett

Lauren O’Hara

Clint O’Hara

Erin and Tim Vertin

Karla Calderon

Antonio Lopez

Emily and Justin Carinci

David and Kimberly Burris

Hannah and Brad Smith

Scott and Natalie Hanchett

Anna and Dan Roberts

Stephanie Cyrus

Wilson County