Cesar Chavez Elementary School
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At 1221 Anderson Road, Davis, California lies Cesar Chavez Elementary School. Originally at this location was the prior school, West Davis Elementary school. In 1997 they turned West Davis Elementary School into Cesar Chavez Elementary School, a Spanish immersion (just like Language immersion) school. The hope with making the school the first Spanish immersion in Yolo County was to teach children at a young age (early immersion) the Spanish Language both verbal, writing and the culture. Cesar Chavez is a Spanish immersion school, meaning that at the school they learn both Spanish and English. The Spanish thus is integrated into the standard curriculum.
Overview of DJUSD
Cesar Chavez elementary school is part of the Davis Joint Unified School District which includes Elementary (K-6th) Schools; Robert E. Willett, Valley Oak Elementary, Birch Lane, Cesar Chavez, Pioneer, Patwin, North Davis, Marguerite Montgomery, and Fred T. Korematsu. Middle (7th- 9th ) Schools; Harper Junior High, Holmes Junior High and Emerson Junior High. High (10th- 12th) Schools; Davis Senior High, Martin Luther King Jr. High, and DaVinci High School. The Davis School District also offers alternative schools which include Davis Adult School, Davis School Independent Study, Children’s Center, and Martin Luther King High School. Davis’s public schools are known for their stellar performance on standardized testing. As of 2006 the Superintendent is David Murphy.
As pointed out above, Spanish immersion at this school is believed and known to be a way of initially teaching the children at the school how to speak and write in Spanish at the starting age of 6 or 7 (1st grade) and continue until graduation in 6th grade. By this time they hope that the children have a good boost to being fluent in the Spanish language later on in life. At Cesar Chavez, all courses; Spanish, Math, Social Studies, Science, and even P.E. and Computer arts are taught in Spanish.
An immersion education has been researched and documented for years by now. As known, when one is around the age of five, the language that they are trying to get down is their first language, not a foreign or second language. Thus, at the beginning of the immersion program it has shown that English speakers experience a sufficient delay of learning the literacy and skills. By the fourth, fifth and sixth grades, however, researchers have discovered that immersion students are right back up to their expected knowledge in their first language (most commonly English). Although courses taught at Cesar Chavez are taught in Spanish, children in this immersion program end up mastering all academic material and are up to the level of all knowledge of the subjects of the other students their grade level who are not in a structured immersion program or any immersion program, in that matter. It has also shown that the schooling in a second language/ Spanish immersion Program: • Increases the students IQ • Increases the students divergent thinking, that is, a way of measuring one’s so called “cognitive flexibility” also known as flexibility of the mind and its thinking. • Makes it much more easier for the person learning the second language to learn even a third or fourth language. They have noticed it is much easier to understand the relationships between words and their meanings when one has that background of a second language learned at a young age. • Students are more likely to be positive and tolerant to others who are both or either culturally or linguistically different.
One of the unique factors of Cesar Chavez is that their Spanish immersion program is suitable for all children, and the fact that all children of special needs, below achieving or different family situations will develop and learn just as well as they would if they were placed in a purely English speaking school.
Two-way immersion, also known as TWI is an idea and technique that Cesar Chavez Elementary uses at their school. What it is, is when the minority of the language (non-native speakers) are combined with the majority or native speakers. The combination is expected to spark an interest in the speakers and the minority will mix with their native classmates, and the native/majority speakers can help out and instruct without exactly knowing it. This idea of mixing experience with the language learning (most commonly one third majority, the Spanish speakers, and two thirds minority, the English speakers) the Davis school district has implanted this type of immersion into Cesar Chavez, as well. Not only does this integration promote the knowledge of the language but the respect that everybody is different, and not the same. The result has been astounding, surpassing any doubted expectations or second guessing. Some would call it a success and only do an immersion program with two-way immersion program intact and in place.
Through years of research, researchers have also taken note of the fact that compared to other language-learning programs, that say, one individual tries later on in life or even in high school or middle school as an elective, children in an immersion program early on in life are much more effective in learning the foreign language (in this case, Spanish). This is not to say that once the program is over the children are fluent in the language, but gives them a head start in the Spanish language. The school’s hope is that once students have graduated grade 6 (the final grade of the school) that they will carry on their already known knowledge of the language into a middle or high school intermediate or secondary course. Their goal is once the students graduate from the Elementary school, they go on to complete Spanish 3, 4, and 5 AP in their secondary schools. By this point the students should be fluent in the language and able to converse with native speakers. They will achieve this goal at Cesar Chavez Elementary by employing Spanish speaking, well qualified and experienced teachers, keeping their standards high, and participating in two-way immersion. Minority speaking students who are part of this two-way immersion program seem to be doing extremely well and if not better than others in other kinds of programs and English speaking schools because their classmates and peers are native speakers and interact with them every single day of the school year.
Why would a parent want to send his or her child to a Spanish immersion school like Cesar Chavez?
Besides the information posted above, compiled here are a few more reasons why parents nowadays are giving Spanish immersion schools like Cesar Chavez Elementary a serious thought:
1. To this day it is in greater demand than ever before for young professionals to be bilingual. If our children of today learn early on a different language, this betters the chances of their success in the future.
2. When children are young, their minds are fresh and new. This is a perfect opportunity to open up and be comfortable with the ideas of diversity. Solid interaction, every day with a different culture, is a wonderful way of keeping the prejudice ideas and actions away.
3. Neurological researchers have found that the best time to learn or start a new language is before the age of twelve. Before then, the mind has not developed or wired in all of its sounds. If we keep and learn the sounds from a different language before then, our brains will keep them wired in, thus, there is less of a chance that we will forget them.
They are a Spanish school.