The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Queen of Spain Visits Washington Heights Dual-Language School

By Lindsay Armstrong | September 22, 2014 5:24pm
 Dos Puentes was recently accepted into the International Spanish Academies Program.
Queen of Spain Visits Washington Heights School
View Full Caption

FORT GEORGE —  A fairytale came to life for some Uptown elementary school students Monday when they were paid a visit by an actual queen.

Her Majesty Queen Letizia of Spain and Chancellor Carmen Fariña visited Dos Puentes Elementary School Monday to announce that the school received membership in the International Spanish Academies. The ISA is a prestigious network of U.S and Canadian schools that offers Spanish immersion programs and receives support from Spain’s Ministry of Education and Science.

During the visit, Queen Letizia and Chancellor Fariña visited a kindergarten art class and a first-grade classroom. Principal Victoria Hunt said the queen took questions from 23 first-graders, including a 6-year-old who asked Her Majesty in Spanish how it felt to be queen before bowing. The queen also used a globe to show them her hometown of Madrid.

“This was a great visit,” said Chancellor Fariña. “Having the queen from the country of my parents’ birth was really very powerful today and the fact that she really understands education as the mother of two young children I think it made it even more powerful.”

Dos Puentes, which is located at 185 Wadsworth Avenue, opened last year and currently serves about 130 kindergarten and first-grade students. It will eventually expand to become a K-5 school.

Dos Puentes focuses on dual-language education, a model that places English language speakers and learners in the same classroom and uses both languages during instruction. The goal is to help native speakers of another language become proficient in English while English speakers have the opportunity to learn a second language.

Chancellor Fariña acknowledged the growing popularity of such programs.

“We are finding in New York City in the last two years that more and more parents are asking for dual language and these are parents whose kids only speak English,” she said. “I think you’re going to see [we’re] at least looking to start 40 new dual-language programs throughout the city and they will not only be in Spanish.”

Schools that are given the International Spanish Academies designation join an international network focused on dual-language and immersion programs. They receive access to support and resources from Spain’s Ministry of Education and Science, including teacher and student exchange programs, partnership with Spanish schools, language and culture assistants, curriculum support, and teacher-training courses at Spanish universities.

Hunt first learned about the program while serving as an assistant principal at the Emily Dickinson School/P.S. 75 on the Upper West Side. She applied for the program last year after moving to Dos Puentes and received notification that it had been accepted about six months ago.

There is no specific determination yet as to which resources Dos Puente’s will receive, the principal noted.

“It’s an honor,” she said. “Having this partnership with the International Academies of Spanish really represents what Carmen [Fariña] is letting us do as a city and certainly what our school is about in terms of promoting two languages and two cultures for all our children.”

The other New York schools recently selected as members include M.S. 223, M.S. 247 and Southampton Intermediate School.