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Dual-language program expanding to fourth Forsyth County elementary school
Cumming ELI
Cumming Elementary School teacher Yessica McNeeley helps Carlos Soto on the computer. The school system is planning a new immersive language program that aims to graduate a class of fully fluent, bilingual and bi-cultural Spanish and English speakers for 2018-19. - photo by Bradley Wiseman

After nearly a year of teaching and success in three Forsyth County elementary schools, local education officials say that a new language immersion program is ready for the next step.

At the December meeting of the Forsyth County Board of Education, system officials announced that starting in 2020 the Dual Language Immersion (DLI) Program will be introduced at Mashburn Elementary School.

The DLI program, which was implemented at Kelly Mill, Brandywine and Cumming elementary schools in 2018, takes native English and Spanish speaking students and divides their day between Spanish and English instruction with the hope of eventually graduating a class of fully fluent, bilingual and bi-cultural speakers.

Fonda Harrison, associate superintendent of teaching and learning, told the board that with DLI’s success so far, they are ready to continue the program’s rollout.

"With our first year of DLI, we wanted to just include three schools, that was our goal,” Harrison said.  “And then in subsequent years, go to adding one to two a year and see how that goes, that's what we're doing right here."

Over the last year the system has been doing its due diligence for the program, World Languages Content Specialist Michaela Claus-Nix said, looking at local elementary schools to find a potential fourth DLI school, taking applications from the schools, training principals and staff and beginning the process of hiring DLI educators.

"We wanted to make sure that we grow sustainably, so that's why we implemented, right from the beginning, basically a training period before any new school could come on board," Claus-Nix said.

Like at Kelly Mill, Brandywine and Cumming, Claus-Nix said that DLI program will start with kindergarteners in 2020 and will progress to first- and second-grades in the following years. 

The school system will be holding parent information nights at each of the four DLI schools in January 2020, Claus-Nix said.

Brandywine’s informational night will be held on Jan. 13, Mashburn on Jan. 14, Cumming on Jan. 16 and Kelly Mill on Jan. 23. All of the events will be held at 6 p.m. at each respective school.

Another information night will be held in March. The deadline for application into the DLI program is May 15, 2020.