OPS Dual-Language Programs Draw Visitors

Dual-language programs in Omaha Public Schools have drawn acclaim from other cities across the nation.

Administrators from schools districts in Connecticut, Chicago, and California have visited Omaha schools to learn about the curriculum and take aspects of the program back to their schools.

"It is an advantage being bilingual--we're in a global society now, where that skill will be an advantage for them when they get into their careers," said Irma Franco, the dual-language resource teacher at Gomez Heritage Elementary School.

Franco was part of a team of teachers and administrators who created the program in 2000. She has seen the program grow from 80 students to more than two-thousand in fourteen years.

"You can see that self-esteem built into them from day one because they're making the connections quickly," said Franco.

Visiting school districts want to emulate OPS methods because they have produced students who outperform regular English-speaking class students on State exams.

In the program, students spend fifty percent of their day in English classes, and fifty percent in Spanish classes. Collaboration, and partnership between students who are better speakers at English or Spanish also improves learning.

"I'm not really good at Spanish so she helps me if I didn't know what a word means or how you pronounce it," said 4th grader Yolanda Henderson, talking about her class partner.

Students from Gomez-Heritage said they are proud to be recognized from other states.

"I never imagine people across countries and cities to come over here to learn our program I never knew it was that big," said Alejandro Marquez.

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