Derek Braun, TESOL/OFLA Liaison Columbus City Schools, EL Science Teacher

“One School. One Mission. One Vision. One Movement.”  Columbus City Schools World Language Middle School (WLMS), a school dedicated to providing a Spanish / French language immersion experience along with the integration of the district’s newcomer ESL program, plans to open in the fall of the 2021-2022 school year.  The school will be located in the old Dominion Middle School building in the Beechwold neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio.  Principal Sandra Santos, alongside the Columbus City Schools ESL Department, is leading the initiative.  The school’s planning and development has been assisted by a Steering Committee, including Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), dual-language immersion experts from The Ohio State University, and community members.

The mission of the school is to honor multilingualism by creating opportunities for all to learn in an environment where culture and language are at the forefront of pedagogical approaches. The school will consist of the integration of three learning communities: 1) Columbus Spanish Immersion students; 2) Ecole Kenwood (French Immersion school); and 3) Columbus Global Academy (ESL Newcomers Program). Additional spaces for students who wish to attend are also available through the Columbus City Schools lottery system.  The school will offer various content courses taught in the target language (Spanish / French) to provide students with 40% of their school day in the target language.  This will present students with the opportunity to be on a pathway to graduation as a recipient of the Ohio Seal of Biliteracy.  This model will not only provide native English speakers with the opportunity to continue in their target language development but will also provide the opportunity for Spanish / French home-language English Learners to be seamlessly integrated into the school with the opportunity to continue learning in their dominant language while their English language literacy develops.  Students completing grades 6-8 at the World Language Middle School will then continue their studies at Columbus North International High School, which is currently designed to provide a variety of World Language classes as well as to accommodate English Learners by providing support for students still developing English language proficiency and literacy skills while completing content classes.

The new World Language Middle School aspires to increase access and equity to all learners in Columbus City Schools while preparing them for success as citizens in a global community.  As multilingualism and multiculturalism become more and more a necessary part of students’ education, this school represents a step in the right direction by preparing students for success.  The school also represents an important shift for Columbus City Schools in the approach to educating English Learners. It also provides a model for seamless integration into the U.S. school system as students begin their pathway to proficient bilingualism.

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