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Norwalk's Silvermine Transitioning To Full, Dual-Language School

Ivette Ellis is principal at Silvermine Elementary School in Norwalk which is transitioning into a full dual language emersion school.
Ivette Ellis is principal at Silvermine Elementary School in Norwalk which is transitioning into a full dual language emersion school. Photo Credit: Norwalk Public Schools

NORWALK, Conn. -- The Silvermine Elementary School, which is part of the Norwalk public school system, will transition into a full dual-language immersion school, education officials said.

The transition is part of a larger plan to meet diverse needs in the district, they said.

Beginning with next fall’s incoming kindergarten class, Silvermine’s existing “Mano-a-Mano” program will expand to include all students.

The change will happen gradually, as each grade level moves up, Norwalk officials said.

Norwalk school, they said, have been longtime leaders in international studies and dual language programming.

The Center for Global Studies at Norwalk’s Brien McMahon High School is a well-known, inter-district magnet school that focuses on Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese languages, history, and culture.

Silvermine’s own “Mano-a-Mano” program dates back to 1998, back when it was becoming clearer that the younger years are the best time to learn a second language, they said.

Since then, Silvermine has operated two classrooms at each grade level under the dual language English and Spanish instructional model.

At Silvermine, Mano-a-Mano teachers plan and coordinate instructional programs in a team teaching environment at each grade level: one instructs in English, and the other in Spanish.

The program strives to develop high levels of proficiency in a student’s first and second language, and to develop academic performance that is at or above grade level in both languages.

Students in accelerated programs perform better than their monolingual peers, educators said. Bilingual students also demonstrate greater mental flexibility, creativity and problem-solving skills.

“Mano-a-Mano” students, they said, also develop intercultural understanding and enhanced self-esteem.

Most colleges now require proficiency in a second language as a graduation requirement and the number of opportunities for college-level study abroad have also increased, they said.

More and more employers are looking for bilingual workers, they said.

For information and applications for the annual magnet school lottery, click here.

Applications must be completed and returned by Thursday, March 24. The lottery will take place on Thursday, April 21.

Each school can be contacted for a schedule of open houses.

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