Monday, November 19, 2012

School Report #4

We kicked off our week with another school visit. Bright and early, we visited the Hernandez School, or Escuela Rafael Hernandez K-8. The Hernandez is unique, as it conducts all educational instruction in both English and Spanish. The kids start out alternating 3 days of Spanish instruction with 2 days of English instruction. In 3rd grade, they switch to alternating 2 weeks of instruction in each language. Literacy begins in the child's home language, but children are expected to become functionally bilingual. This would be a marvel in our household, which is firmly monolingual.

The school itself was impressive. The classrooms were large, surprisingly large. The school had lots of space, including an auditorium, a gym, AND a cafeteria! They weren't all smooshed into one multipurpose space like in other schools! They had a full-time PE staff, with competitive sports, including track, for the 4th graders and up. The outside play yard/playground was the biggest I've seen so far. They had gardens, and a plot in the local community garden. Music and performance arts seemed to play a big part of their curriculum and culture. We saw the children practicing for a performance they'll be giving tomorrow. We observed dance and instruments, as well as singing. 

The school is considered a "Discovery School", which means that they can deviate from the standard BPS curriculum. They employ an "expeditionary learning" model of teaching, which from what I can tell, sounds like it's more hands-on and collaborative. (I still need to do more research on this concept.)

The school is an exciting prospect. It would be a challenge for all of us, both the girls and BestestHusband and myself. The language and cultural divides would allow for a significant amount of growth. And this school, with its bilingual education, is something that we could not provide for the girls anywhere else. The 'burbs don't provide the opportunity in public education, and our finances can't provide it at a private school. 

It's considered a city-wide school, so walk zones and BPS reorganization won't affect our ability to go there. The only thing that controls us is the lottery. I'm pretty sure this school will be high on our list.

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