Dillon Valley Elementary School receives Spanish language award | SummitDaily.com

Dillon Valley Elementary School receives Spanish language award

Dillon Valley Elementary students wear drawings of the Spanish and Mexican flags on their heads at a recent celebration.
Julie McCluskie / Contributed |


Elementary Schools: Dillon Valley Elementary (Colorado), Baltimore International Academy (Maryland), Benjamin Franklin Magnet School, (California) and Wharton K-8 Dual Language Academy (Texas).

Middle Schools: Coral Way K-8 Center, (Florida).

High School: Albuquerque High School, (New Mexico).

Dillon Valley Elementary was one of six U.S. schools to receive an honor from the Spanish Embassy for its dual language program.

The school won the 2013 School of the Year (“Colegio del Año”) Award for its excellence in the integrated teaching of English and Spanish as a model Content and Language Integrated Learning program.

“We’re very excited,” said principal Cathy Beck. “We’re very proud of that.”

Beck and superintendent Heidi Pace flew to Washington, D.C., to accept the award Monday, June 2, at the Spanish Embassy.

“The success Dillon Valley Elementary has experienced in teaching core content in Spanish and English is a thriving example of how important language and culture are to student learning,” Pace said in a news release. “We are tremendously proud of our teachers, staff, families and students for embracing the tenets of this innovative academic program.”

Beck and Pace met the Spanish Ambassador to the U.S., Ramón Gil-Casares Satrústegui, and the award’s sponsors, and each school did a 10-minute presentation followed by tapas and drinks.

In the nine years since Dillon Valley started the program, it hasn’t changed much, Beck said, but “we’ve gotten really good at what we’re doing.”

She attributed much of the success to the school’s professional development and its teachers, including native speakers from Spain, Colombia, Mexico and other countries who help add material about Spanish-speaking cultures to the language instruction.

The award came with a $1,500 grant, which will be used to buy more Spanish books, and two licenses for an online Spanish language course.

The school also was awarded tuition and books for one teacher to attend a six-week summer university program in Spain, but Beck said the announcement came too late and unfortunately none of Dillon Valley’s teachers will be able to attend.

“I had the opportunity to visit Dillon Valley Elementary School’s successful dual language education program last year and was impressed with the quality and effectiveness of this inclusive program,” Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia said in a release. “The school’s recognition from the Spanish Embassy is an honor for our state and tribute to the hard work and commitment of both their students and teachers.”

The annual award is organized by the Education Office of the Embassy of Spain in Washington and co-financed by the Shareholders Office of the Bank of Santander in the U.S., the Cervantes Institute, the Santillana and Anaya Groups and the Comillas Foundation.

For more information on the “Colegio del Año,” visit http://www.mecd.gob.es/eeuu/en_US/convocatorias-programas/convocatorias-eeuu/escuela_a-o.

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