JACKSON HEIGHTS — A local middle school's pioneering dual-language program will serve as a model for others across the city and will use a $10,000 prize to invest back into the students.
Intermediate School 145, the Joseph Pulitzer School, was the first in Queens to offer a dual-language program 10 years ago to help Spanish-speaking students and those wishing to learn the language.
Last week it was selected as one of 15 schools recognized as the Chancellor's Citywide Model Dual Language programs, where it will help other schools build their own programs.
"I am so honored to be recognized," the school's principal, Dolores Beckham, said outside the school Friday, surrounded by some of the program's more than 180 students.
Dual-language classes teach every subject in English and Spanish, alternating days on which language is used. It's costly, requiring books in both languages to meet the Common Core standard, according to Ivan Rodriguez, an assistant principal.
But the school has never questioned its importance, and made the program a priority, he said.
"We are celebrating the beauty of mastering two languages," he said, adding that "being bi-literate is an honor."
They recently had a science teacher from Spain conduct a lesson, and the inclusion in the program — and the $10,000 grant in support of it — will help them continue to grow, he said.
Councilman Danny Dromm said the need for dual-language programs is high in his district, and hopes it can be brought to more schools.
"[The programs] are so vitally important to our economy," he said.