CAMBRIDGE -- The Amigos School in Cambridge is one of the oldest dual-language schools in the state.
Started in 1986, they teach in Spanish and English and are a model nationally for the program.
The program starts in kindergarten with the students getting more instruction in English every year. It starts at 80% Spanish, 20% English instruction in kindergarten and changes as the grades progress. The goal is that by the time they graduate in 8th grade, they'll be able to take Spanish advance placement courses in high school.
"The biggest benefit is to be able to continue to connect with your family and your culture, which is crucial for academic success," said Amigos Principal Sarah Bartels Marrero.
The goal of this program is to reach high levels of academic achievement, bilingualism, and biliteracy in an environment that values multiculturalism. The idea gives the diverse population of students an opportunity to feel seen in school. They have students and staff from every Spanish speaking country in the world.
"When they explore with language they really grow to be bilingual very fast. They are like sponges. They love to use what they've learned. They love to use Spanish," said kindergarten teacher Oscar Castillo..
Because the school is so diverse, teachers say it creates a welcoming environment for students of different backgrounds.
"Not all the teachers don't look alike, because not all the kids look alike. So when kids can see people they can reflect on, they can say, 'I see a teacher that I can identify myself with.' [They can say], 'I have a teacher that has the same hair that I have, the same complexion that I have, the same accent that I have.' It's just a rich experience," said third grade teacher Margaret Lewis.
They even have a couple of teachers who were once students themselves at the school, like Mr. Bonilla, a fourth grade teacher. When he attended, the school helped him learn English while keeping up Spanish as his first language. He said it felt like his second family making him feel comfortable to be himself.
"I embrace the fact that I'm Hispanic, Latino, and I have that here," Mr. Bonilla said. "So I never feel like I'm lost."
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