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AISD supporting native Spanish speakers through dual language program

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Humphrey's Highland Elementary School first graders start their day with a pledge. A pledge for success first in English, and then later in Spanish.

"OK class, now let's switch our brains," said Mrs. Gomez, a first grade teacher.

Amarillo Independent School District (AISD) fifth grader Josua Nevarez, has been in the program since pre-k.

"If there's a job in English you can understand it. If there's a job in Spanish, you can understand it as well," he said.

Josua said he is looking forward to how being in the program will help him down the road.

Humphrey's Highland Elementary Principal Lisa Morgan said it sets students up for for success beyond elementary school.

"As they move through the program from pre-k to fifth grade, and that structure is maintained, they leave as a bilingual and bi-literate scholar," Morgan said.

Half of the day, first graders are learning and doing all of their school work in Mrs. Gomez's classroom in English. Then, just across the hall, the other part of the day is spent in Mrs. Gonzalez's room. There, students are learning in Spanish.

Math, science and social studies are in English, while reading and writing are in Spanish.

Christina Ritter, founder of the program and chief academic officer, said before AISD's dual language program, Spanish-speaking students were behind.

"They were going into English classes as our transition model, but not always having that continued Spanish support," Ritter said.

Now, this learning environment may have a lasting impact.

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