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Edina School Board approves new Spanish immersion, STEAM programming

Aerial view of Kuhlman stadium with water tower in foreground.

Two new academic programs have been approved by the Edina School Board. The Countryside Spanish Immersion Program will begin with two classrooms of kindergarteners in fall 2022. Design of embedded STEAM programming will happen in 2022-23, with implementation in elementary schools expected to begin in the 2023-24 school year. 

The idea for additional language and STEAM  programming was first raised in 2015 in the Birth to Gr. 5 Study conducted as part of the Next Gen Strategic Plan. The new strategic plan, approved in June 2020, prioritizes additional preK-12 programming that “promotes authentic and engaging learning experiences to meet the needs of future ready learners and provide attractive educational options for families.” Through surveys, focus groups and a ThoughtExchange forum conducted earlier this year, Edina families expressed high interest in both programs.

Countryside Two-Way Immersion Spanish Program

The new Spanish immersion program will follow a two-way model where classrooms are a mix of English-speaking students and native Spanish-speaking students. They learn both languages together in the classroom. Studies have shown that two-way language programs are mutually beneficial for speakers of both languages. By learning together, all experience faster acquisition of the other language, support one another’s learning of English and Spanish, and students demonstrate higher academic achievement by grade 5. Studies suggest that concepts learned in two languages are learned more deeply and better retained. The program is also open to students who natively speak languages other than English or Spanish. 

Two unoccupied spaces at the Edina Community Center will be the “incubator” site for the first year of the Countryside Spanish Immersion Program. The program will open with two sections of kindergarten, accommodating up to 48 students. This will allow time to complete classroom construction at Countryside Elementary, the permanent site of the program beginning in 2023. It is anticipated that six additional classrooms would be constructed at Countryside. Current Countryside students and the Continuous Progress program will continue uninterrupted at Countryside.

Families of incoming kindergarteners are now able to select the Countryside Spanish Immersion Program on the kindergarten Preference Form available online on the Kindergarten Enrollment webpage. A Countryside Spanish Immersion Program Information Night will be held Monday, Dec. 20, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. at Countryside Elementary. Families may also attend virtually at this link.

STEAM

The acronym STEAM refers to the integration of learning concepts from science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. This approach provides students an opportunity to make connections across disciplines, encourages creativity and critical thinking, and allows for collaboration and real-world challenges.

This year, the district will form a  Design Team that will develop curriculum, courses and learning pathways, as well as explore ideas for STEAM-related clubs, and opportunities for internships, certifications and microcredentials at the secondary level. Implementation will begin in fall 2023.

Visit edinaschools.org/CountrysideSpanish for Frequently Asked Questions and information about kindergarten enrollment.