A walk through Heritage Elementary School in Woodburn, Oregon, can make you feel like you’re touring Europe. In one classroom, a group of third-graders learn to read in Spanish. In another, students recite multiplication tables in Russian. In other parts of the school, students are receiving instruction in English.
Heritage Elementary School isn’t a fancy private school, or even a public school nestled in an affluent suburb where parents pay high property taxes to give their kids a good education. It’s part of the Woodburn School District, which has an expansive dual-language program although the vast majority of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
Many students enter Woodburn schools without knowing any English, but can switch seamlessly between two languages by the time they leave.
And these students are not just bilingual. Woodburn students are also more likely to graduate from high school than students from districts with similar populations and levels of poverty, according to Chuck Ransom, the district’s superintendent. Most importantly, they’re more likely to continue on to higher education, which leads to better job opportunities and, ultimately, a better quality of life.
Click here to read more about how the Woodburn School District is preparing their students for a better life through bilingualism via dual-language programs.