OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma City’s first entirely bilingual elementary school is preparing to welcome students for the 2021-2022 school year.
Western Gateway Elementary is located at 1300 SW 15th in OKC.
Students will learn in both English and Spanish from teachers who are fluent in both languages.
“One teacher will provide English language arts and math in English, the other teacher will provide Spanish language arts, science and social studies entirely in Spanish and these teachers will plan thematic lessons together so that they can bridge the languages within the content areas,” said Superintendent Heather Zacarias.
The school will cater to both native Spanish-speaking students and native English-speaking students.
“Our English students will be learning Spanish and our Spanish speaking students will be learning English,” said Zacarias.
Zacarias is bilingual herself and says the research proves this type of learning is effective.
“It opens so many more doors for students that have that skillset. That can go out into the workforce and have more opportunities to speak in more than one language,” she said.
The public-charter school will be open to five surrounding neighborhoods.
Families living in Jones Grove, Higgins Heights, The Wheeler District, Will Rogers Court and College Hill are all eligible to enroll.
The school’s boundaries are from southwest 23rd to the Oklahoma river and from Westwood to Walker.
If all spots aren’t filled by neighborhood families, Zacarias says enrollment will then open to students in other areas as well.
“We do have 200 seats, so if we don’t fill all the seats with all of our neighborhood attendance boundary students, then we’ll open it up to all students who live in OKCPS,” said Zacarias.
The school will start with Pre-K through first grade and will add further grade levels each year.
“When a student is learning a new language, the earlier the better, so since we’re starting with 4, 5 and 6-year-olds, pre-k, kindergarten and first grade, it’s the perfect time to bring in another language,” said Zacarias.
Zacarias says she hopes to replicate the model of school in other parts of the metro. Enrollment is now open through May 16.