Frasch Elementary earns credential of excellence for immersion program

<div class="Content"><p class="indent">Frasch Elementary School is one of only three elementary schools in the state to be recently deemed a State-Certified World Language Immersion School by the Louisiana Department of Education.</p><p class="indent">In the spring, the school entered a multi-faceted evaluation process including an application, document evaluation and a site visit by state level evaluators resulting in its new, three-year credential of excellence.</p><p class="indent">Application for the process was not a requirement for the school, however, Principal Michelle LeBlanc said, “I am a very competitive person and I have good people on my team … I knew it was something we could tackle.”</p><p class="indent">In 2015, the staff began the three-year journey to certification by studying the criteria involved in successful programs and making necessary adjustments to its campus and culture.</p><p class="indent">“We had to break apart the rubric and really analyze what we do well and what needs strengthening. The biggest area of improvement for us was in the area of professional development for our teachers and staff. Everybody on the staff had to be on board … From the office, to the cafeteria, to the library, everything had to be aligned to accommodate the second language.”</p><p class="indent">Students in Frasch’s immersion program spend 60 percent of their day in Spanish speaking classes where they learn every subject except for English language arts in Spanish, said Adriana Spicer, second-grade immersion teacher. “We have to use many visuals and descriptions because we are speaking Spanish to students who are not non-native learners. Therefore, many students develop an even stronger grasp of both languages because we spend such focused time on understanding the concepts and academic vocabulary,” she said.</p><p class="indent">Monique Roberts, world languages/ English as a second language consultant, said immersion education is proven to be more successful in language retention than traditional foreign language education because it helps students connect their native language with the second language in practical and useful way. “Plus, it connects dendrites helping to surpass what they could have learned if they’re only monolingual. They have more brain capacity to learn other things,” she said.</p><p class="indent">Frasch is Calcasieu Parish School Board’s oldest foreign language immersion school and students who continue in any CPSB immersion program through high school have the opportunity to graduate totally bilingual and bilateral if they’re focused on that goal, explained Roberts. Frasch’s achievement, as well as Mamou Elementary School in Evangeline parish and Prairie Elementary School in Lafayette parish, will be formally recognized at October’s Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting.</p></div>””18348286-jpg