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Morris Area district to offer preschoolers bilingual class this school year

By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

A new preschool program will reach out to both Spanish- and English-speaking residents of the Morris Area School District.

The Learning is Fun Bilingual Preschool program received enthusiastic support from the district School Board at its meeting this week.

Jody Snow and Tamy Reese presented the program. Snow is a language instructor in the Morris Area High School, and Reese is the Early Childhood and Family Education Coordinator for Morris Area Community Education.

The program is for children ages 3 through 5 and encourages language building skills, phonics and preliteracy skills.

Activities include play and story times, motor skill activities, art, songs, games and other projects designed to teach languages in a fun environment, Snow said.

The cross-cultural connection will expose Spanish- and English-speaking children to different languages and cultural staples at an age when they will absorb it most readily.

"If kids are hearing a language, they'll learn it," Reese said.

The classes won't be strictly rote learning.

"We're not just going to translate," Reese said. "That's not how we're going to do this."

The class, optimally, will have an English-speaking teacher and a Spanish-speaking paraeducator working with the students. The classes are noon to 3 p.m. on Tuesday and Fridays from Sept. 15 to Dec. 11, except for holidays and other days when school will not be in session.

There is a cost for the 23 sessions and payments can be made in four monthly installments.

Snow and Reese said they hope to have six English-speaking kids and six Spanish-speaking kids in the class.

With a significant number of Spanish-speaking families living in the area, the class will be a way to reach out to them, Reese said.

"I think it's a great way to attract children to our school district," she said.

District Superintendent Scott Monson said he's enthused about the program and represents a "big step" in connecting with Spanish speakers in the district.

"This is exciting," he said. "There's research that found that by learning another language, you learn English better."

All classes will be in the district's ECFE classrooms in the Morris Area Elementary School.

For more information about enrolling, contact Reese at (320) 589-4394, extension 2237.