duPont Middle students working in classroom

Alfred duPont named ‘School of the Year’ for its Dual Language program

April 29, 2021 – Alfred duPont Middle School es la escuela del año!

English translation…Alfred duPont Middle School is the school of the year!

The school’s commitment to bilingual and bicultural education is just one of the reasons why it garnered the top spot for middle schools nationwide in the Embassy of Spain’s 2021 “School of the Year” award.

This award is awarded to schools across the United States that demonstrate rigorous work in both Spanish and English.

Highlighting the school’s Dual Language program, the embassy wrote that students, administrators, educators, and families all work together to foster a bilingual environment in which students not only learn another language, but also embrace new cultures.

“This award speaks to the quality of our program,” said Marilyn Barnwell, principal of duPont Middle. “We are providing kids with one of the best bilingual learning programs in the nation.  It also affirms that we are moving in the right direction in our goal of developing a first-class program that will help guide our students in their pursuit of higher education and global citizenship.”

Alfred I. duPont is one of five schools in the district that offer a Dual Language program. Students enrolled in the program take their academic courses – language arts, science, math and social studies – in both Spanish and English.

“The goal of the Dual Language program is bilingualism,” said Barnwell. “We want our students to think, speak, and write in both languages. This not only gives students an advantage competing in a growing global marketplace, it also helps them to see the world from multiple perspectives.” 

The Spanish embassy noted that the school’s program has produced strong academic results over the years. Since the 2014-15 school year, there has been a 20-point leap in ELA state assessment scores among eighth-grade native Spanish and English speakers in the program.

Students are also demonstrating strong language acquisition skills, with more than 75% of students testing either proficient or above proficient in Spanish literacy skills last school year. 

Barnwell pointed to several recent student success stories that are directly connected to the Dual Language program. This includes Dual Language student, Julius Graham who was crowned champion of the district spelling bee last school year. It also includes Dual Language student, Flor Ruiz who won the Hispanic Heritage Essay Contest this school year.  

“Bilingualism is an experience that shapes our brain for a lifetime, and duPont is a stellar example of a school that from top to bottom immerses students in a bilingual education that promotes biliteracy and biculturalism,” said Ingrid Carias, the district’s director of ESOL, Dual Languages, and World Languages. “I am beyond excited. It is a tremendous honor for our DL Program to be recognized by the Education Office of the Embassy of Spain in Washington D.C. This is well-deserved recognition.”

Carias said this was the first time any school with the district was invited to participate, much less win. She helped the school, alongside with her team, to develop a well-rounded portfolio to submit to the Education Office of the Embassy of Spain. It highlighted the cultural activities hosted by the school, such as Bilingual Family Nights and the Dual Language Lecture Series.

In addition to the “School of the Year” designation, duPont will receive grants to provide professional training courses for educators, a special professional development grant for one week of training in Spain, and $1,250 in Spanish-English books and resources.

Visit the district’s Dual Language webpage to learn more about the program.