If you walk through the halls of Old Town Elementary this year, you may notice something different — students in a number of classrooms at various grade levels speaking Spanish during their instructional lessons.
This year, the campus has implemented the Dual Language program, which provides students with the opportunity to engage in instruction and content in both English and Spanish. The campus is the latest to host the Dual Language program in Round Rock ISD and was brought to the campus as a response to the changing demographics of the District’s community.
“Our community has embraced Old Town as a Dual Language campus,” Old Town ITS Leslie Long said.“ The teachers and students are so excited and there is a lot of enthusiasm for the program. It’s wonderful to see the program have a strong start at our campus as it’s our goal to offer our students opportunities for continual enrichment.”
The ultimate goal for the program is to create bicultural and bi-literate students, Old Town Principal Leah Ionnotti said. The programming aligns with two goals within the District’s Strategic Plan — Goal 1: We will implement, enhance and support innovative teachers and learning models; and Goal 3: We will provide open opportunities, staff training, communication and flexible programming to eliminate any disparities in expectations or achievement amongst our students.
Along with the Old Town community’s acceptance of the program, Ionnotti also attributes its initial success to the support of the district.
“Round Rock ISD has done a great job of supporting our campus as we take on this new initiative and making sure our teachers have the resources they need to be successful,” she said.
With one dual language class present in each grade level, the goal is to expand the program to offer multiple classes in each grade level. Until then, the campus leadership has found another way to help further dual language learning on its campus.
Old Town was recently awarded a $59,595 Tier Two Innovative School Grant to assist the campus in providing all students with dual language opportunities. With the new program, every participating student will be provided with 50 minutes of Spanish instruction per week. In addition to developing each student’s bilingual capabilities, the program will also foster intercultural understanding and sense of respect for others.
The campus’ hope is to one day be a World Language School. Visit the program’s website for more information on RRISD’s Dual Language Program.