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Sun Valley Elementary program makes 'splash' with state leaders

State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, center, speaks with Union County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis during a recent business and education roundtable. Also pictured, at left, is Sun Valley Elementary Principal Terri Cooper.

Education and business leaders from around the state met at Sun Valley Elementary School recently for the second roundtable event in a statewide initiative.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, Union County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis, State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison, Union County Board of Education Chairman John Collins and about 15 other business and community leaders gathered for the event.

The focus was on global education. Sun Valley Elementary School showcased their Splash language immersion program, where Kindergarten students are taught Spanish as well as English, their Global Gateway classroom and a VIF teacher from the Philippines.

As the group went to each classroom, the Sun Valley students explained, sometimes in different languages, what they were learning.

"Union County has done some amazing things and as a partner, we could not ask for more," David Young, chief executive officer of VIF International Education, said in a presentation.

Young added that the dual-language classes seem to work for all school and students and can serve different needs for different communities.

"We know what works now," Young said. "We know dual language works."

Young said they now struggle with scale and offering the program to every student who wants to participate. He added that his own child is 14th on the waiting list in Chapel Hill, where he lives.

Atkinson hopes to replicate the global schools network in other counties. What is happening at Sun Valley Elementary School really is a model for other schools, Atkinson said in an interview. She added that the students are learning languages and world culture, while still teaching the common core standards.

"I can't help but say when I come to Union County that it has the highest graduate rate...of large school district in the state," Atkinson added.

Ellis was also pleased with the presentation. "I think today shone a spotlight on yet another good thing in Union County Public School," Ellis said in an interview.

Ellis added that they are preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist, one of the themes of the roundtable. "I hope business leaders...see that we are trying to prepare students for a very global future," she said.

She noted that the preparation begins early.

The event was sponsored by the NC Business Committee for Education, the NC State Board of Education, the NC Department of Public Instruction and the NC Global Schools Network.

--Reprinted with permission from the Enquirer Journal.



Written by: Carolyn Steeve, education reporter for The Enquirer Journal
Posted: Dec 07, 2012 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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