The Dean P. Corey Academy of Fine Arts

As the hosts of the national dual language directory, we work to honor dual language programs across the country. The idea of the directory is to help parents find local dual language programs for their children, help teachers find dual language programs to find jobs, and to show potential administrators other nearby dual language programs.

This week, we are showcasing the The Dean P. Corey Academy of Fine Arts and Dual Language in Arlington Independent School District (AISD) in Arlington, TX. Their district realized the need to accelerate the effectiveness of their bilingual model districtwide. At the same time, their new superintendent requested a district-wide facilities audit to evaluate campus usage and a curriculum audit to evaluate programming. The results of those extensive studies led to the creation of two student choice campuses at the elementary level, Corey Academy and Jones Academy. Both schools have the same programming model and were intended to draw students to their campuses which would relieve overcrowding at other campuses and provide unique options for in-district and out-of-district students.

When the decision was made to create two campuses which would be fine-arts rich and dual-language focused, a visioning committee of district leadership, curriculum and instruction, and fine arts and world language staff began to research dual language models. (In Texas, the Gomez and Gomez model is most prominent). The visioning committee was struck by the format and success of Utah Dual Language Immersion model and that became the foundation for the Corey Academy dual language program. The proposal for redesign of the facilities and programming of these two campuses was developed and the funding plan was included in $670 million-dollar bond election which addressed many district needs.

Photo of Teachers from September's Holbrook Language Academy

Once the bond was approved, the World Language staff began tailoring existing curriculum into their 50/50 Two-way Dual Language Immersion Model that they have implemented. The Academy requested outside consultants to help develop the model and worked with the Human Resources department to hire the necessary implementation team. In their model, math and science are taught in the target Spanish language by one teacher and reading and social studies are taught in English by the partner teacher. Bridging across those content areas occurs in the partner classroom.

With a high-level view of the outcome goals, they had a game plan for what they wanted to accomplish.  Since Arlington ISD had not implemented dual language before their program, the academy was learning as they went.  Again, when schools were implementing dual language in Texas, the Gomez and Gomez model was the predominant model.  There were not local or regional groups implementing in the way that the Academy was doing so.

Continue reading to find out more about Corey Academy…

While these trainings and preparation did not eliminate our bumps in the road, they helped to prepare us for them. Proper training helped conceptualize the outcomes we were trying to achieve. When we made mistakes with our implementation, we returned to those outcome goals to get our bearings and stay focused on our target.

Photo of Teachers from September's Holbrook Language Academy

They brought in consultants Greg Duncan and Dr. Mimi Met to assist teachers with the understanding of what effective dual language instruction looks and sounds like. The administrators for the DLI campuses attended the Delaware Institute for Novice Immersion Principals.  This institute helped to connect the Academy with other DLI principals who were in the early stages of implementation.  This conference helped to refine goals and address potential pitfalls for early implementation.

The planning pieces the Academy used were created at the district-level with consultants providing feedback. Despite their planning efforts, not everything was a smooth launch. The dimensions of change visual helps to identify the components of a successful change launch. As you evaluate the implementation of any systemic change, consulting this visual can help to avoid pitfalls. When programs aren’t successful, the resulting emotions can be firmly attached to that program. Effective planning should consider all pieces below.

Photo of Teachers from September's Holbrook Language Academy

The Academy notes that they had a great vision, good people, and a great plan, but would have benefitted from more time to understand the DLI design at both the district level and again at the campus level. They believe that comes back to the most important resource of time.  That lack of time certainly created some frustration with their initial implementation.

Continue reading to find out more about Corey Academy…

Photo of Teachers from September's Holbrook Language Academy

The academy offers the following advice for other programs interested in initiating programs:

Be clear about the goal that you are seeking to achieve.  The “Why” of the program clarifies a vision.  This relentless focus on “Why a program exists” should drive the work.  The “How” of the program and the “What” of the program often get the focus, but the “Why” will govern the vision and direction and guide the decision-making process.  Include as many stakeholders in the process as you can, especially decision-makers at the top levels of the district.

The academy cites some of their biggest challenges thus far as developing and continuing to have growing pains as any young DLI program will. Their biggest challenge in a district of more than 60,000 students is teaching the district-level systems that they are different. They are re-establishing all system components around their differences. In a world where school choice continues to be a prevalent conversation, district systems must acknowledge that unique models require unique processes and procedures. The larger the organization, the slower the change. They have confidence in their work and they know that the system will adjust. They also know that it takes time to change a large organization.

Photo of Teachers from September's Holbrook Language Academy

The academy considers themselves intentional marketers of their product. Branding and advertising to a diverse community helps to spur interest in their program and ensure that representatives from socio-economic and ethnic groups are represented.

The focus for every student is academic achievement. At Corey Academy, we understand that language and the arts accelerate cognitive development and in turn increase achievement. The combination of arts integration and our DLI program create an environment where students are engaged in learning constantly. Teachers focus on the efficacy of student learning, rather than their teaching. The use of DLI in our classrooms compels great instruction and the use of arts integration in conjunction with that model creates neural networks and dramatically increases the comprehensibility of input. Raising the level of student engagement is a goal of any solid educational model. Doing so through a language rich and arts rich model of instruction makes a powerful difference in the effectiveness of every minute in a child’s day. We articulated our “Why” in a very visual format and our “How” is through Fine Arts and Dual Language.

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