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Embracing the Global Village
March 2008 | Susan Miller

"We want our children to embrace the world," responded Principal Wendy Wardlow of Del Mar Heights School when asked about the driving force behind the Global Village concept she developed for the school in 2001. "We've shown we have stellar academic programs, but through development of the Global Village concept, we said, 'Let's go broader.' Part of that is acknowledging and respecting the importance of other cultures."

After years of research and collaboration with parents and experts, visits to at least seven other private and public elementary schools offering language programs, and enough supporting data to fill an enormous binder, Del Mar Heights School will become the first elementary school in the Del Mar Union School District (DMUSD) to offer foreign-language instruction.

Beginning next fall, Spanish language instruction will be provided to Heights students in all grades by offering exposure to Spanish throughout the entire curriculum. In addition, two classes of students in each kindergarten and first grade, whose parents enroll them in the "Spanish Discovery" program, will have more in-depth exposure to Spanish. The goal for these students is to be orally fluent by the end of third grade.

Principal Wardlow and her Spanish Language Task Force of parents and local university language experts were convinced by research confirming the benefits of second-language learning during the early primary school years, including its contribution to higher levels of cognitive development, creativity and success. Beyond these benefits, Principal Wardlow also values a "more expansive view of the world" brought on by studying other languages and cultures.

The Spanish program at Del Mar Heights School was formally approved at a recent DMUSD Board of Trustees meeting and has been met with great enthusiasm and excitement by many district families.

When asked what her biggest challenges were in getting the program off the ground, Principal Wardlow stated, "This has been a labor of love. What's challenging is waiting to start - there is so much enthusiasm for the program, but we had to do the research, build community support and do it right."

Parents of children in DMUSD who will be entering kindergarten or first grade in fall 2008 can learn more by attending a Spanish Parent Forum on March 11 at 8:15am, in the Del Mar Heights School's multi-purpose room. Students in the Spanish Discovery program may transfer to Del Mar Heights School from other schools in the district.



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