Henry Earns National Bilingual Honor

Patrick Henry K-8 School has been named the 2015 Two-Way Bilingual Immersion School of Distinction by the San Jose-based Association of Two-way and Dual Language Education.

This award is a national recognition presented to schools or districts that have been trailblazers in their communities in implementing model two-way bilingual immersion instruction. In Henry’s case, such instruction is provided in English and Spanish.

“The Association of Two-Way and Dual Language Education is excited to recognize Patrick Henry School and the great work spanning close to 25 years,” said the organization’s Executive Director Rosa Molina. “Their unwavering commitment to bilingualism and biliteracy for the students of this school community has served as an example to hundreds of two-way and dual language programs that make up this extensive network of schools in California and throughout the U.S.

“We were so impressed by your school after our visit to your site and fully recognized that award and recognition are long overdue,” Molina said. “Your school community and staff have been on the forefront of quality program implementation for close to 25 years! That's truly amazing.”

As a result of the success of Henry’s program, Molina said, “hundreds of students from this community are flourishing academically and linguistically in two languages. Over the years, Henry’s program has continuously improved and examined its practices to ensure bilingualism and biliteracy for both native speakers and English speakers in their community.”

In the past five years, eighth graders from Henry have entered their high schools having taken the Spanish Language Advanced Placement test with an impressive 80 percent passing rate or higher.

These students are achieving high levels of literacy in both languages, and they are culturally proficient in the use and understanding of the language, placing them on a college-going pathway upon entering high school, Molina said.

Last February, the Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education approved the re-use of the former Keller Elementary School site to offer dual immersion instruction in English and Spanish for grades 6 to 8 starting this fall. This middle grades program is moving from nearby Henry, which will return to its original K-5 configuration and will continue offering its elementary dual immersion program.

The reconfiguration allows the school district to expand the sought after dual immersion program in Henry’s elementary grades by devoting a separate, entire site to the middle grades dual immersion program, which is projected to grow beyond its capacity at Henry. The aim is to accommodate a high level of parent demand for dual immersion in both the elementary and middle grades. Keller is located about a mile from Henry in East Long Beach.

“We are also proud to celebrate the formation of your new two-way bilingual immersion middle school in 2015-16 for students who will now be able to complete their biliteracy pathway on a much broader scale,” Molina said.

Henry will accept the School of Distinction honor at an awards luncheon in Palm Springs on June 30.

Henry and its teachers have earned multiple state and national honors, including California Association for Bilingual Education Teacher of the Year honors and a Champions of Change award from the White House.

DERON