In 1912, Pella Christian Grade School was founded in Iowa with a vision and a mission. From the beginning, Pella Christian worked to not only provide their students with a Christian education, but to also instill in their students the importance of giving back and helping all people. Over a hundred years later they live by the mission of “…challenging students to develop their individual God-given gifts for a life of service in God’s Kingdom.”
While Pella has always been steadfast in their mission and goals, the school community has always practiced “out of the box” thinking when it comes to the kind of education their students can/should receive. They constantly endeavor to equip their students with the necessary resources to live out their mission both inside and outside the school building. With this mindset, Pella Christian discovered the power of educating students in two languages. Exactly one hundred years after its inception, Pella Christian made the courageous decision to partner with addalingua and build a high-quality Spanish immersion program for their students.
the start of something new
From the beginning, Pella embraced everything Spanish immersion, and their program grew in number, in grade-level, and in fortitude. The Director of Spanish Immersion, Rebecca Gómez, recounts what building the program was like:
“The PCGS journey with addalingua immersion was one of constantly striving to provide students with a high-quality immersion education within the Christ-centered focus of our school. We learned that immersion education is hard work! We also learned that it is so worth the effort when we hear stories from parents and students about how immersion education has broadened their world and has let them make connections with other people or ideas that they might not have had access to were it not for immersion education.”
Pella internalized addalingua’s mission “to inspire global empathy through an education in two languages”- an education that would open up their students’ world, and their ability to connect with, learn from, and serve more of God’s Kingdom.
“We slowly started shifting the culture of Pella Christian Grade School to one of a school that delights in and celebrates the beautiful diversity within the wider Kingdom of God! We’ve been able to educate the whole community on immersion education and to model the value of bilingualism.” (Gómez)
Spanish immersion program reaches the next level
Just eight years after Pella Christian welcomed a second language into their school, they were awarded the highest mark of any Spanish immersion program. They were the first school to receive endorsement from addalingua. Endorsement is a demanding, year-long process that any eligible addalingua school can choose to undergo. The point of endorsement is to prove that a school has faithfully followed the research and experience-backed addalingua model and standards, and as a result, has provided students with a high-quality dual language immersion program. In the words of Gómez,
“Endorsement means that we are implementing our immersion program with fidelity to the addalingua model of best practices in immersion education. It means that students are attaining high levels of bilingualism and biliteracy, cross-cultural competence, and academic achievement. It means we are a quality immersion program and that our hard work is recognized! Endorsement is something to be celebrated by our whole community because it is a recognition of all our efforts as the PCGS community!”
a world of opportunities ahead
Providing students with an immersion education takes more than just finding teachers that can speak two languages and parents that want their students to learn two languages. It takes commitment to the model, a solid implementation plan, and a “students can” mentality. Pella Christian has mastered all three and continues to grow and learn with the intention of providing their students the best possible education in two languages.
Check out this interview between Rebecca Gomez and a local radio station.