The Williamsburg Dual Language Program is the first Japanese Dual Language Program established in a NYC Public School. The program was started by a group of dedicated mothers who saw the need for dual language education in languages other than the French and Spanish programs that were already represented in the Brooklyn area. After visiting a plethora of schools, they found the right host – Public School 147 (PS 147) -- under the leadership of Principal Sandra Noyola and Vice Principal Eliza Figueroa.
The program officially opened its doors in September of 2014. Currently, the inaugural class is in 3rd grade, and the program plans to continue to expand with this class until all six grade levels (K-5) have at least one JDLP classroom. This year, JDLP hired an additional teacher to cover the growing classes, a very exciting milestone for the evolving program.
Kick-starting a dual language program with a target language that is less common among programs already established within the United States poses many challenges. First, a new program must find the funds to staff their program; the Williamsburg Program has found that regardless of the support from the community leaders and local politicians, having complete financial support has been an urgent and ongoing challenge, and cannot be expected.
Another challenge has been finding certified and qualified teachers and staff. Lastly, and most importantly, the JDPL has struggled with recruiting, enrolling and retaining enough Japanese-speaking students in each grade in order to maintain the required rations of Japanese speakers to non-Japanese speakers. This obstacle has been especially demanding in older grades, as students move away from the area and don't return to the school.
Continue to the next page to learn more about the Williamsburg Dual Language Program …