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Central Falls’ Seton Academy Leads on Bilingual Education

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


Seton Academy kids have much to smile about--their school is participating in an innovative bilingual education program. Photo: Seton Academy

A small parochial school in Central Falls is making some big strides in bilingual education. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Academy has been selected to be part of the Two-Way Immersion Network for Catholic Schools (TWIN-CS). The program is an innovative school model that delivers the pre-school classroom curriculum in two languages, English and a well-represented minority language--in the case of Seton Academy, Spanish.

Immersion models

Two-way immersion school models have been nationally recognized as the most effective approach to bilingual education. At Seton Academy, pre-school classes will mix native English speaking students with peers who speak  Spanish, allowing both groups of students to become bilingual. Two-way immersion schools prepare all students to be bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural citizens in an increasingly diverse world, while deeply respecting the languages, identities, and cultures of all students.

TWIN-CS is the first initiative of the Innovation Institute for Catholic Educators, co-sponsored by the Barbara and Patrick Roche Center for Catholic Education of Boston College and the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA). “The need for citizens to be bilingual is increasing in demand in the global workplace," said Patricia A. Weitzel-O’Neill, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Roche Center. "Bilingual graduates have an advantage as they apply to college and eventually, professional careers.”

The program not only will teach the students the mechanics of two languages, "but by blending cultures in the classroom, will foster cultural understanding among the student population at Seton,” said Martin Scanlan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Education at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI and faculty design team member. 

“We welcome this program that will further the skill set and cultural understanding of our youngest students,” said Doreen Engel, principal of Seton Academy. “This two-way immersion program will enhance the academic quality and student outcomes of Seton students. It is an honor to be an early adopter of this bilingual early education model.”

The program

Through the TWIN-CS, staff and faculty from  Seton will collaborate with the school leadership teams of the other 11 accepted schools from across the country.  All participating schools will receive continuous support from experienced scholars and practitioners from Boston College, Marquette University, and other institutions across the nation, who will guide the design and implementation of the two-way immersion model best suited for each school community.  Training will begin this winter with online networking and culminate in June of 2013, when twelve school leadership teams come together with a prestigious faculty team for a week-long intensive workshop in Boston, Massachusetts. 

“Scholar-practitioners from across the country will ensure success of the two-way immersion program by providing on site coaching and mentoring for school teams. In addition, schools will form a working network of support and receive help from collaborating colleges and universities through the duration of the program,” said Heather Gossart, of NCEA and Co-Director of the Innovation Institute.

Two-Way Immersion Network

The Two-Way Immersion Network for Catholic Schools is the first initiative of the Innovation Institute for Catholic Educators, a program designed to promote and support innovative academic opportunities for PreK-12 Catholic education.  The Innovation Institute formed as a partnership of the Barbara and Patrick Roche Center for Catholic Education in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College and the National Catholic Educational Association.  This partnership encourages academic models that support successful student outcomes for Catholic schools. Based on proven strategies, academic research, and best practices developed by Catholic colleges and universities, the Innovation Institute improves the effectiveness, rigor, and sustainability of our nation’s Catholic schools. For more information on these programs, go to www.bc.edu/innovationinstitute.


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