Holbrook Language Academy

Photo of Teachers from September's Holbrook Language Academy

The Holbrook Language Academy, a part of the Mount Diablo Unified School District, is a Two-Way Dual Immersion (TWDI) Program for English/Spanish located in Concord, California. On August 22nd, 2017, the academy reopened as a Mt. Diablo Regional Magnet.

The TWDI program is an enrichment program designed for Spanish speaking students at all levels of English language proficiency, native English speakers, and students of other language background whom are fluent in English.

The goal of the TWDI program is to develop academic language proficiency in English and Spanish, mast grade level core standards, and develop cultural proficiency.

At the academy, the program for English/Spanish starts in the Transistional Kindergarten and Kindergarten grades and is planning to grow a grade level each year. Students spend half of their school day learning in English, and the other half of the day learning in Spanish, representing a 50/50 immersion model. The program includes daily, leveled English Language Development for Spanish-dominant students and Spanish as a Second Language for English dominant students. English learners and English proficient students are mixed in the same classroom and receive instruction in both languages daily.  Subjects like Music and PE are also taught in Spanish.

Mount Diablo Unified School District has 30 elementary schools, with only seven offering dual language programs, one being the Holbrook Language Academy.

During the planning for the reopening of the school, the community input and district representatives – including both the Assistant Supervisor for Elementary Schools José Espinoza and Director of Projects Stephanie Roberts – agreed that bilingual programs are in the rise, providing potential long-term educational and career benefits that multilingual students accrue.

With the support of representatives, parents, community stakeholders, and District Superintendent Dr. Nellie Meyer, plans were made to launch the reopening of the academy.

The vision of the Academy is to provide the opportunity for students to learn in a bilingual, multicultural, and collaborative environment that develops character and the necessary skills to succeed in a diverse, global society.

Continue to the next page to learn more about the Holbrook Language Academy…

Once it was established that the academy would reopen as a TWDI program, several steps were put into play, starting with the hiring of highly-qualified teachers. It is imperative for teachers, especially in bilingual school districts, to be passionate about the program, trained well, and feel supported by the administration.

At the Academy, the two Kindergarten teachers come from ample background in bilingual education and have worked within the district for 20 years. Likewise, the Academy hired a TK TWDI teacher from Spain through the Spain Visiting Teachers Program who has worked in bilingual programs in both Spain and Oakland, California.

As a Mt. Diablo Regional Magnet, they have a bilingual Language Coach, who works in supporting teachers and students with their success within the program. They also serve as the program parent liaison. The bilingual Language Coach helps teachers prepare and create cultural lessons for students to be exposed to different heritages and communities around the world; students can share their new cultural knowledge during monthly assemblies with songs, poems, and presentations.

Not only were bilingual teachers hired, but staff – such as a secretary, music teacher, and PE teacher assistant – were also hired on. It was important for the principal, Marga Marshall, to have her students feel comfortable with a teacher that spoke both languages, as well as expose students in a multitude of settings.

Photo of Teachers from September's Holbrook Language Academy

The planning process was a community- and team-effort, giving both educators and parents a voice during the process. The Academy has been meeting the school’s vision and mission because of the meaningful and thoughtful planning.

Along with the relaunch, the school district adopted a new Language Arts Curriculum, McGraw Hill. This curriculum offers a reading program with every component and lesson designed to meet the Common Core State Standards for Reading and Language Arts. The district is assigned to a McGraw Hill rep, and he connects with teachers to make sure they have the materials they need to make the classroom environment nurturing.

Continue to the next page to read more about the Holbrook Language Academy …

The program’s instructional plans mirror those of Reading Wonders (English Component), providing a wealth of authentic literature from across the Spanish-speaking world. Through a rich range of print and digital media, our students get access to quality Spanish literature and informational text.

Teachers and staff members participated in multiple training programs pre- and post-start of the academic school year. For example, At the beginning of the school year, the English Learners Department led by Carmen Garces, provided 2 days of training with Center of Applied Linguistics and teachers participated in the training learning about how to successfully implement the program in our school.

Principal Marshall represented the Academy at a two-day training with the rest of the principals apart of Dual Language Schools. During the two-day training, she had the pleasure to meet with Dr. José Medina, Director, Global Language and Cultural Education at the Center for Applied Linguistics, as well as practice instructional rounds and observed dual language schools in our district.

This gave Principal Marshall and the Academy an opportunity to see where MDUSD are at as a district, and how to align the programs to become a strong, cohesive unit.”
The Academy had a very successful re-launch. Many new parents and families are interested in enrolling their students in the Academy for the next academic year.

Time and excess funds seems to be two of the biggest challenges the Academy faces on a daily basis. In order to be successful, however, the Academy reported that a bilingual program requires bilingual Instructional aides, more books including authentic literature, bilingual resources (library books, online resources, bilingual staff), and bilingual-leveled classroom libraries

Photo of Principal Marga Marshall

When asking principal Marga Marshall for any advice to schools who are interested in creating a dual language program, she responded saying, “Make sure to do research to implement the best program to fit your school. Our district follows a 50/50 model and teacher teaming is encouraged if numbers allow it.”

For more information on the Academy, and to follow more of their updated story, check out their website www.holbrook.msusd.org, and social media platforms:

The program has been a success since day one, because of the continuous efforts from the teachers, support staff, parents, principal, and district representatives. The program at Holbrook Language Academy works for positive, active, and ongoing relations with student’s families and the community.

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