Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New indie school in the Castro

An SF K Files visitor asked me to post the following:
The latest Castro Courier (neighborhood newspaper, the latest issue is not online yet) has an article about a new school at 117 diamond (the old SF Friends School.) It's a spin-off of Marin Day School (preschool/day care owned by Bright Horizons) and called Marin Preparatory School.
Here's a link with more information:
marindayschools.org
I thought you might be interested.

129 comments:

  1. Someone sent this to me as well, they seem to be getting the word out through pre-schools and word of mouth. Note they have two info sessions coming up next week:

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009
    4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. ~ 2 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

    7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. ~ 3333 California Street, San Francisco CA 94118

    Anyone know anything about Marin Day in their other incarnations?

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  2. My guess it that this relieves the pressure that MDS is having placing kids in kindergarten. By having MPS, they can raise their placement rate significantly, which I'm guessing has been suffering the past few years.

    Comments?

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  3. This raises so many Qs for me:

    What the @#%#@@ is Spanish infusion? How is it different from immersion?

    Will the kids be bilingual when they graduate? I am suspicious of the fact that they don't talk about bilingualism. Are they afraid to promise that "infusion" results in bilingualism?

    What's with the name, too? I wouldn't have guessed in a million years that a school named Marin Prep would be Spanish-immersion. I wouldn't have guessed it was in San Francisco, either.

    Is this what happens when a large corporation known for running corporate daycare centers tries to start a school from far away?

    Do they know anything about immersion models?

    Are they really committed to being a bilingual school, and, if so, why is their name, so, well, Anglo.

    We hope to send our kid to an SFUSD immersion program because we *know* immersion is a proven model (vs. immersion) and we know that having classmates who are native Spanish speakers will be a strong motivator.

    We also want our child to have an international outlook on the world and applied to French-American for that reason). "Marin Prep" certainly does not sound international.

    This just seems very odd to me...

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  4. My son went to a MDS preschool and I liked the program a lot. I think they saw a demand (in K placement and in language education) and are trying to fill it.

    While I don't have anything against new schools, I think it would be a big leap of faith for a parent to take - although if it turns out the school doesn't work out, it's always possible to switch to a different school down the road.

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  5. 9:03 back again. I checked the link and one thing that would worry me is that it looks like they're k-8 right from the start. I think the approach that Friends used of adding 1 grade/year is probably better. OTOH, Lynn Kanter-Levy is involved; she's been directing their preschools for years and is very competent, and has good connections to the other k-8s in SF.

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  6. They aren't admitting students in all grades, just their 2 year kinder, I believe, though their goal is to be k-8...

    though, yeah, their marketing materials are confusing.

    I asked an acquaintance who teaches at an immersion public if she could explain the difference between an immersion approach and an infusion approach and she told me she had never heard of infusion.

    I wonder if they just made that up.
    And, if so, why they felt they had to invent their own terminology.

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  7. I have a feeling they don't know a lot about language immersion.

    Or maybe they aren't sure they want to offer language immersion so they are stopping short of it?

    Or maybe it is just an experiment and that is why they chose a generic name like Marin Prep, so that they aren't stuck with a name that sounds like an international or bilingual school if the experiment fails?

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  8. "Marin Prep" sounds like a Marin County High School, not a Spanish-immersion elementary school.

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  9. This would certainly be worth looking into by people who don't get into any other private schools they applied to. How much is the tuition?

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  10. Where does it say this is Spanish-immersion?

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  11. This is how Friends filled up their starting year -- taking people after the deadline, after the rejection letters...

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  12. BTW the school will be in the old Friends, ex-Live Oak building

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  13. It seems like this school is positioning itself to be a straight transition from the Marin Day School P-K program. This is why they are keeping the name. It has only been marketed to the current MDS students so far, and both of the info sessions are located at existing MDS campuses.

    I am a current MDS parent and have been very happy with their program. My older son graduated from the Fremont St. campus last year and was very successful in the K enrollment process. From what I saw, MDS is doing just fine in the student placement department.

    I don't know what language-infusion means, but I think immersion is not a practical model for any private. My guess is that their goal is something like the JBBP program, where language is integrated into the daily curriculum, but making all students bilingual is not the measure of its success.

    The location is great. If this option had been available to me last year I would have certainly considered it.

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  14. Do you know what the tuition is?

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  15. Ah, I get it...

    Marin Day School's many campuses will be the feeder preschools to this independent school.

    Hence the name.

    Makes sense.

    Well, I might have applied if it were immersion. THere is a Spanish language immersion school in Oakland that we loved (Escuela Bilingue Internacional www.ebinternacional.org) but it is too far for us.

    But if this isn't immersion and if it is just part of MDS, well, that is a lot less interesting to us.

    I'm not sure I'd want a school run by a big corporation that oversees large, for-profit daycare centers, anyway. I would have gotten over that hump for Spanish immersion, but not for daily Spanish lessons that don't result in true bilingualism.

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  16. Yes,I hear this is just for Marin Day School families, but this first year they might let others in to make sure they have a full class.

    That's why they call it Marin Prep.

    (But yeah, does sound like a high school in Marin, doesn't it?)

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  17. I think Marin Prep sounds like a boys' boarding school where you send kids who have gotten into trouble.

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  18. MDS/BH has been working for 5 years to open a Spanish bilingual elementary school. The program will serve children in Jr. K (turning 5 by Dec. 2, 2009), K and perhaps grade 1,if there is demand. The plan then is to add a grade each year-much like SF Friends did when they began. MDS/BH has an excellent record of getting children into all the independent schools. This will be a very welcome addition to the SF community.

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  19. I didn't see anything about the school being bilingual in their marketing materials.

    Marin Prep certainly doesn't sound like a bilingual school.

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  20. Gosh, it would be so great to have a private school back-up to SFUSD immersion programs for those of us who want Spanish instead of French.

    Doesn't sound like this is it, though.

    I checked out EBI in Oakland and it sounds like exactly what SF needs. Wish they would open a campus in SF. They get it.

    NOt so sure about Marin Prep.

    Does anyone here *like* the name?

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  21. Who really cares what the name is?

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  22. Seriously. I'm blown away by all the posts of people being caught up in the name of the center. I'm also shocked by how many posts there are about it being part of a larger company. I would think in many respects that would be a HUGE advantage, not disadvantage. Plus it looks like they have a great reputation in the area so why would the second post say they are "starting a school from far away". I don't think that's the case at all.

    Really, I'm just looking for a good private school for my daughter. She won't be old enough this year, but next year she will be and I'll certainly look into this option with an open mind and not judge something I know little about.

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  23. Yeah, but they're known for running corporate daycare centers, not for being leaders in elementary education.

    And part of being good at runnning things should include being good at marketing. And the name betrays a lack of skill in that area. How are they going to recruit and keep top talent?

    If they *do* want to do Spanish-immersion, they are going to have to sound like they understand how it works in order to attract good Spanish-immersion teachers, who are in such high demand.

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  24. I'm pretty sure they made up the term "Spanish infusion".

    Did they do any research on foreign language acquisition in children or language education before making up their own term and approach?

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  25. Wow. EBI sounds great.

    www.ebinternacional.org

    Could they be persuaded to start a San Francisco campus?

    I guess finding a location would be an issue.

    Too bad they don't have a school bus.

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  26. "Infused" sounds like a word for tea bags.

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  27. I'll echo 9:29's comment that Lynn Kanter-Levy is very competent and has good connections.

    I'm a former MDS parent who was surveyed years ago when they began thinking about expanding into elementary education. I assume the survey results said most of us wanted multiculturalism but not necessarily full immersion.

    It's odd to me how obsessed some people are over the placement rate of preschools. Tried to find a daycare spot lately if you haven't applied months/years in advance? I was happy to find ANY full-time care for my kid, and placement rate was not even on the radar. We got lucky with MDS who runs our corporate campus.

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  28. Most independent schools in SF have some sort of multicultural curriculum. And most teach the kids Spanish at this point, some as early as kinder or pre-K (though the kids don't necessarily end up more fluent than the schools that start in 3rd.)

    What is sorely missing in the SF independent school scene is immersion beyond the 2 French schools and single Mandarin private. Or any kind of immersion with a more proggressive curriculum. Not another independent school with a watered down language program and multi-culti views. There are already several offerings like that.

    SFUSD has had to grow the Spanish-immersion program to 8 (from 2 just a few years ago) because there is so much demand from middle class families.

    A watered down program will attract those families the other privates didn't want to admit.

    A Spanish-immersion program, on the other hand, will attract people who are passionate about a true international education and bilingualism. (PRobably folks who either didn't win the SFUSD "lottery" or who wanted higher academic standards or a more progressive pedagogy than SFUSD provides).

    So... what would you rather be? An also-ran to the top tier privates or the city's only international school with a progressive, experiential curriculum and bilingualism (or multilingualism as a core value)?
    Do you want to lead, or follow?

    I know what I would choose if I were the team behind this new school.

    But it seems the organizers might not be as "international" or "bilingual" as the students they hope to educate.

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  29. MDS was a privately operated daycare, preschool and after school care program that originated in MARIN COUNTY, hence the name. They have many campuses in Mill Valley and San Rafael. MDS were bought by Bright Horizons about 3 years ago. When it changed hands there was no visible change in the program or staffing. All the admin. offices are still located in San Rafael.

    I think there are a lot of families who have no interest in immersion. Another good quality, low-key, centrally located, and hopefully affordable private school option should be celebrated.

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  30. THere *are* a lot of families who aren't interested in immersion... which is why there are already several dozen independent alternatives already available to them... not to mention nearly 70 public schools.

    What this town *really* needs is an independent immersion program with a progressive curriculum. A school like that would not be competing with 50 other private schools for faculty, families and grants.

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  31. But it seems the organizers might not be as "international" or "bilingual" as the students they hope to educate.

    When push comes to shove, I think you will find a dramatic drop in immersion interest if and when the middle class decides to follow some other magnet.

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  32. I doubt it. THere are reams of academic research on the cognitive (and other) benefits. And as the relative clout of the US economy declines, it will be *more* important (not less) for our children to have an international outlook and multilingual capabilities. Even though the de-facto language of business is English, people who have truly mastered another language are quicker to pick up on cultural nuances that often get in the way of business.

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  33. There are now 12 language immersion schools in SFUSD and only 3 that I know of in the top tier indep privates.

    ON the other hand, there are nearly60 English language elementary schools in SFUSD and nearly as many privates.

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  34. We are one of those families that was at MDS before it was purchased by Bright Horizons. We've seen it go from a nice friendly home grown preschool to a corporate day care center with teachers and staff leaving. We left for that reason. There are many locations so I can only speak for one of the locations and it's sad to see that being part of a corporation, it needs to report to the shareholders and the bottom line is it must make money, so you can see how decisions are made and it's not always in the interest of the children. It will be interesting to see a k-8 school in SF that is not a non-profit, but a FOR PROFIT. Will this be the first private elementary school that is for profit?

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  35. Yes, I'd be equally interested in a magnet school that specialized in the math and sciences, as much as immersion.

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  36. In defense of BH/MDS, they have done very well by my kids. There is a curriculum used in the preschool and pre-k age groups and structure to the day. Because of the BH connection, our campus is open on most holidays because it provides back-up care for its corporate clients (mostly law and accounting firms), so I have far fewer days that I need to take off because school would be closed. Beyond the convenience factor, my kids are thriving and happy.

    Things are not always smooth, though. I certainly see struggles with staffing - which the administration is remedying by doing some active hiring right now - and operations, but all in all, I don't have much to complain about. The director of our campus is a warm, lovely woman, though overwhelmed with the volume of work it takes to run a center like this.

    I'm interested in this new school, especially since we're doing the kindergarten dance right now. The timing is a little odd - I almost feel as though they're rushing the opening, or they were behind schedule to start. Otherwise, the opening of the school should've been publicized back in the fall when we were all looking, right? Still, I'm willing to go to one of the sessions to hear what they have to say.

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  37. No, Adda Clevenger, a K-8 in Noe Valley is for-profit. Another for-profit private school that's now defunct was Discovery Center on Ocean Avenue, which was pretty well-known till it folded 4-5 years ago.

    I have heard that the Stratford School chain (one is open or opening off Ocean Ave.) and the Hilldale School in Daly City (attended by at least a few SF families) are also for-profit, but don't know that for sure.

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  38. Does anyone think they are 'introducing' the school now so that in case we don't get accepted by any school in two weeks we have another option? Pretty smart on their part I think. Great marketing strategy!! I think Children's Day School 'opened' up a new K class after the letters went out and took in students who didn't apply initially because they did not get accepted anywhere else. This was a couple of years ago?

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  39. Friends did that too when they started.

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  40. It seems like if you're starting a new school, it would be pretty hard to have everything in place in time for the fall admissions process and then be in limbo until the next September. I think it's a practical consideration more than anything.

    But I do think it's a good strategy to bring the option out at this stage. In the fall, when people are more optimistic, they're not going to be as interested in an untested school with a somewhat different approach ("infusion", for-profit, etc). When people are trying to find an alternative situation to the one that's landed in their lap in the spring they might be more open to it.

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  41. What is "infusion"?

    Can someone explain?

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  42. So... it is *not* immersion and will just be taking kids who weren't admitted at other private schools?

    Won't they just get the "dregs" then, the families no one else wanted?

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  43. Is it just for Marin Day School families?

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  44. 2:27 #2: I think it is open to all, this year at least. Come March 15th, or whenever, when we have hundreds of 0/7 families trying to figure out what to do, I bet this place gets a lot of people checking it out.

    2:27 #1: Dregs? Really? You think the private school admission's process effectively distinguishes families in a meaningful way? Keep kidding yourself.

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  45. The people who are looking for other school options are the ones who were a) unlucky in the SFUSD lottery; b) didn't happen to read the crystal ball right when it came to private school admissions; c) didn't get a spot due to something beyond their control; or d) all of the above. Dregs have nothing to do with it.

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  46. I have to tell you that Lynn Kanter-Levy really worked hard, as did my child's pre school director, to get our child into a very good private school. We are all very happy about how things worked out. I think if Lynn is involved with this project it is going to be a genuinely good place for children- regardless of the name of the school or the type of Spanish program they will offer.

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  47. What kind of Spanish are they offering?

    I did some online research and came up empty on "language infusion" as a credible educational approach.

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  48. How did Lynn help you get into private school?

    Our preschool director is new to SF. What are directors supposed to do to get you in? Write your essays for you?

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  49. Our preschool director encouraged us to apply to 6 schools. But she has been trying to convince us that we should focus all our energies on one particular school -- the school none of the other families from our school applied to. She says it is because she thinks it is the best fit, but honestly? I think it is because she wants to make sure that all the kids in the class find a placement. Our true first choice is SF DAy, but there are so many other families from our school applying there, she is trying to convince us that it isn't our top choice. ARGH. I can't believe I was naive enough to think she had my child's best interest at heart. She is, after all, trying to get the best result for the whole school and the whole class.

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  50. What school is she encouraging you to apply to, and why does she think it would be a good fit? Maybe she genuinely thinks you have a better chance of getting in there - in which case she's steering you well (but also should support your taking a shot at SFDay and advocating for your child there too).

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  51. I don't want to go into details, but it has more to do with our cultural background..

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  52. It may be that she honestly doesn't think you would be happy at SF Day, then. Sometimes good advice involves things you don't want to hear.

    I have no idea what your situation is or what schools are involved or any of it, but this is a process where the reality is often very different than the expectation and where things tend to work out for the best.

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  53. If all she's interested in is her placement numbers, she'd be encouraging you and everyone else to apply to SF Day (and every other private school for that matter). That would up her chances of getting at least one kid in there. A lot of people really, really want SF Day. Very, very few people get it.

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  54. My husband is French so we applied to FAIS.. but we'd prefer a more developmental approach to kinder. That's why SF Day is our top choice, not FAIS.

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  55. Lynn Kanter-LevyMarch 6, 2009 at 6:51 PM

    This is the first time I have ever written on a blog. In fact, I'm embarrassed to say, I didn't know what a blog is until now. A good friend very kindly forwarded this to me. WOW- what a surprise! First- thanks to those who wrote kind words about MDS, BH and I. They are much appreciated. Now I'd like to correct some misconceptions.
    1. MDS is a separate nonprofit organization that is managed by BH. Marin Preparatory School is part of MDS- thus it will be structured as a not for profit school. BH is the management company for MDS. We have worked together successfully for over 5 years.
    2. I have spent many years trying to start a Spanish immersion or bilingual school in SF. I am happy to say that BH has worked with me and provided support and resources all along the path to 117 Diamond Street.
    3. We have seriously researched language programs and came up with the term “infusion” to describe how we will approach this aspect of the curriculum.
    4. Spanish infusion means that most teachers will be bilingual and talk to the children in both languages- but primarily in Spanish. Spanish language and Hispanic culture, history etc. will be on-going throughout the child’s day. We plan to teach some academic subjects in English- Math, Science and English literature and grammar. Other subjects will be taught in Spanish. Spanish will permeate the program in the before and after school activities as well and in the summer camps.
    5. We have a wonderful opportunity to create a school/curriculum/program/environment that is innovative, creative, child centered, inclusive and environmentally aware.
    6. Marin Preparatory School is a work in progress. We do not pretend to have all the answers. Our hope is to build a school- together with children, parents, teachers, administrators and the community.
    7. We plan to open with a Jr. K class, a K class and perhaps a grade 1 and then see what happens with the goal of a full Jr. K-grade 8
    8. We are doing this because currently there is no Spanish language independent private school in SF. There are some public schools with Spanish immersion or that offer bilingual education. From everything I hear they are quite popular and well done. We felt that there was a need for this type of program as an independent school. Many, many people speak Spanish in SF, CA, USA and in this hemisphere. We do not pretend to be immersion or bilingual. However we very much want the children to come out of our school truly fluent in Spanish. We know what matters is the language the children speak on the playground and we will do everything possible to encourage the use of Spanish.
    9. We are doing this as an additional choice for parents. We will continue to do everything possible to help get our students into other private schools and the public schools of their choice. We also pledge to do this for families who choose our Jr. K program and wish to move onto another private school for K.
    10. We have been very warmly welcomed into the independent school community by our good friends in these other schools- the ones that most families want their children to attend. We have spent many years developing true friendships with these wonderful schools based on mutual respect and honesty.
    11. We look at this as an opportunity and an adventure. We are looking for a faculty and families that want to build this school with us.
    12. Please come to one of our parent information sessions to learn more. Someone helped us out and listed the meeting information at the top of this blog. Flora Magumbi-Mutunga (MDS/BH Regional Manager and former site director at our CSI Campus) and I will present a power point program and answer all your questions. Enrollment packets will be available. I look forward to seeing you.
    Lynn Kanter-Levy

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  56. Lynn Kanter-LevyMarch 6, 2009 at 6:51 PM

    This is the first time I have ever written on a blog. In fact, I'm embarrassed to say, I didn't know what a blog is until now. A good friend very kindly forwarded this to me. WOW- what a surprise! First- thanks to those who wrote kind words about MDS, BH and I. They are much appreciated. Now I'd like to correct some misconceptions.
    1. MDS is a separate nonprofit organization that is managed by BH. Marin Preparatory School is part of MDS- thus it will be structured as a not for profit school. BH is the management company for MDS. We have worked together successfully for over 5 years.
    2. I have spent many years trying to start a Spanish immersion or bilingual school in SF. I am happy to say that BH has worked with me and provided support and resources all along the path to 117 Diamond Street.
    3. We have seriously researched language programs and came up with the term “infusion” to describe how we will approach this aspect of the curriculum.
    4. Spanish infusion means that most teachers will be bilingual and talk to the children in both languages- but primarily in Spanish. Spanish language and Hispanic culture, history etc. will be on-going throughout the child’s day. We plan to teach some academic subjects in English- Math, Science and English literature and grammar. Other subjects will be taught in Spanish. Spanish will permeate the program in the before and after school activities as well and in the summer camps.
    5. We have a wonderful opportunity to create a school/curriculum/program/environment that is innovative, creative, child centered, inclusive and environmentally aware.
    6. Marin Preparatory School is a work in progress. We do not pretend to have all the answers. Our hope is to build a school- together with children, parents, teachers, administrators and the community.
    7. We plan to open with a Jr. K class, a K class and perhaps a grade 1 and then see what happens with the goal of a full Jr. K-grade 8
    8. We are doing this because currently there is no Spanish language independent private school in SF. There are some public schools with Spanish immersion or that offer bilingual education. From everything I hear they are quite popular and well done. We felt that there was a need for this type of program as an independent school. Many, many people speak Spanish in SF, CA, USA and in this hemisphere. We do not pretend to be immersion or bilingual. However we very much want the children to come out of our school truly fluent in Spanish. We know what matters is the language the children speak on the playground and we will do everything possible to encourage the use of Spanish.
    9. We are doing this as an additional choice for parents. We will continue to do everything possible to help get our students into other private schools and the public schools of their choice. We also pledge to do this for families who choose our Jr. K program and wish to move onto another private school for K.
    10. We have been very warmly welcomed into the independent school community by our good friends in these other schools- the ones that most families want their children to attend. We have spent many years developing true friendships with these wonderful schools based on mutual respect and honesty.
    11. We look at this as an opportunity and an adventure. We are looking for a faculty and families that want to build this school with us.
    12. Please come to one of our parent information sessions to learn more. Someone helped us out and listed the meeting information at the top of this blog. Flora Magumbi-Mutunga (MDS/BH Regional Manager and former site director at our CSI Campus) and I will present a power point program and answer all your questions. Enrollment packets will be available. I look forward to seeing you.
    Lynn Kanter-Levy

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  57. wow, thank you for clarifying...

    I wish my child was entering K or 1 I would apply. Alas, she is going into 2nd.

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  58. Thank you Lynn for your thoughtful, helpful post. What is the projected yearly tuition? Will after-school care add additional expense? How much? How many children per grade will you admit the first year? Will there be professional support for children with special needs or disabilities? What are the hours for the school day? The location is perfect, and two other schools had successful starts there. We wish you well.

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  59. I'm still not clear on what the "language infusion" model is.

    You say you researched various models: Can you point us to 2-3 schools who follow a language infusion model? Doesn't matter if they are in other states or countries, just want to look at another example somewhere.

    Would love to see the research that led you to choosing that model. Is there a particular researcher in bilingual education whose work you are basing your model on?

    Please,tell us more!

    THis is exciting!

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  60. Here's a link to the original Castro Courier article.

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  61. hum... EBI in oakland? i have heard from insiders that the EBI has been off to a rough start. lots of conflict between teachers and admin, lots of teacher turnover, etc. they publish openings regularly on the berkeley parents network listserv so i don't think they are ever at capacity.

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  62. will they have spanish-speaking children in their classes?

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  63. 18k/year - yipes.

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  64. EBI had a very rough start,mostly because they didn't have a strong head of school.

    Now they do. This is his first year and he has already made a huge difference, from what I hear. He even hired teachers from the top independent school in Mexico City.

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  65. Spanish-speaking kids would probably be bored if all they are doing is Dora Spanish.

    The Marin Prep folks keep saying they are NOT immersion or even bilingual, and have not explained how a language-infusion model works.

    I'm not sure they are that serious about the Spanish. Maybe it is just a gimmick to make themselves sound more unique?

    The name they chose certainly signals that Spanish is not central to their identity or mission.

    So maybe they do more Spanish than, say, SF Day, Live Oak and Burke's... but the same amount as Friends, Chidren's Day and SF School... but they want to emphasize it more to attract applicants?

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  66. Do they have a head of school yet?

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  67. Are they worried parents will be wary of the immersion model?

    There are certainly enough parents signed up for SFUSD's dozen immersion programs (8 Spanish) as well as Chinese American, French American and the Lycee on the independent school side.

    Do they really think they'd have trouble attracting applicants if they used the language model that is known to be most effective if their goal is bilingualism?

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  68. A private, Spanish immersion school would be *great*. We're applying to FAIS and CAIS because we want an international education and want our kids to speak at least 2, perhaps 3 languages by the time they graduate.

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  69. Lynn:
    Is your new school targeted at English speakers only?

    Would Spanish-speaking kids who are already bilingual be bored to tears in the early grades?

    Will you open up your middle school to graduates of SFUSD's eight immersion programs?

    There are no real middle school immersion programs. THere is an immersion track, but it amounts to just 1-2 hours of advanced Spanish a day and in one of hte schools, means kids must forego electives in the arts in order to continue with the Spanish.

    Your school would be *so* popular with SFUSD immersion parents if you continued immersion through middle school (or at least had half the day in Spanish... including arts and music!)

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  70. Arent' "prep" schools typically high school?

    What's with the name?

    I agree that it sounds like a high school in Marin.

    If they are going to admit kids from ALL preschools, why pick a name that at best links them with the wrong geography and at worst makes it sound like it is a school only for kids from Marin Day School preschools?

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  71. What is a NON-prep school, anyway?

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  72. "Prep" has always meant prep for college, meaning high school.
    Hence the term "prep school" for the boarding schools that prepared kids for competitive colleges (Ivies, etc)...

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  73. But that's from the days when only the elite were expected to go to college. Nowadays, our culture encourages the expectation that all students will go to college. So that's the reason for asking if there's such thing as a non-prep school (an intentional one, anyway).

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  74. Still high school though, not elem.

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  75. I doubt they are truly committed to being a bilingual or international school given the name they chose for themselves.

    They say their goal was to start a private school with Spanish instead of French or Mandarin.... but if they were serious about that, they would have chosen a name that reflected that, no?

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  76. I wasn't that impressed with EBI when I visited, but that was two years ago, when they just started.

    I think the main difference is EBI was started by parents who really wanted an international, bilingual education for their kids.

    Their mission was really clear and they chose a name that conveyed their mission: Escuela Bilingue Internacional. Their motto: Two languages, many cultures. Super clear.

    Marin Prep was started by employees of a large corporation who thought Spanish might be a good gimmick to attract applicants to a new SF independent school. I'm not sure their mission is as clear, so it is no wonder it isn't exactly permeating everything they do, including their name.

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  77. The school organizers do know that public lottery results come out this week and private results come out next week, right? Is this school just for people who get nothing in the public lottery or private process? When are applications even due? I know they're just getting off the ground and all, but the timing is confusing.

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  78. This new school isn't the only one in San Francisco (or elsewhere) using "preparatory" to describe schools that are not high schools. I've done presentations at SFUSD's Dr. Charles Drew College Preparatory Academy (K-3) and Willie L. Brown Jr. Academy College Preparatory School (4-8)... just to name two examples.

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  79. Here's what I don't get about Lynn's post:

    "I have spent many years trying to start a Spanish immersion or bilingual school in SF."

    and later: "We do not pretend to be immersion or bilingual."

    Well, no wonder folks are confused!

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  80. ARe those charter schools? I've never heard of them.

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  81. SFUSD's Dr. Charles Drew College Preparatory Academy and Willie L. Brown Jr. Academy College Preparatory School

    Those aren't charter schools, but are both "Dream Schools" whose current incarnation was created as a special project when Arlene Ackerman was superintendent. They were supposed to get extra resources and enrichments, but they were controversial because she didn't work with the district on them. They don't seem to have been a raging success and aren't generally on the radar of middle-class parents.

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  82. Sorry,that was supposed to say Ackerman didn't work with the unions on the Dream Schools.

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  83. So those who don't think "prep" sounds like a high school will associate the name with schools targeting disadvantaged kids?

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  84. If you actually want to know the answers to these questions, you could go to the info sessions. But I have a feeling the snarks will stay home...

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009
    4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. ~ 2 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

    7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. ~ 3333 California Street, San Francisco CA 94118

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  85. It is hard asking tough questions at info sessions for private schools.

    You want to know the answers, but you don't want to be labeled a pain-in-the-ass in case you decide to apply!

    Tricky, huh?

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  86. What are the tough questions?

    What is the difference between immersion and infusion?

    What other schools have successfully implemented an infusion model?

    How was the name Marin Prep chosen?

    How many spaces do you have?

    How many of those do you anticipate will go to current MDS students?

    Will you and how will you recruit native Spanish speakers to the program?

    Will it be challenging for them?

    Do you offer financial aid?

    etc.

    I'm sure you could sit quietly and all those questions will get asked and answered anyway.

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  87. I'd always heard it was a best practice for teachers in multilingual or bilingual programs (or even language teachers in gen'l) to stick to a single language when addressing students.

    Will kids really learn Spanish if the teachers are bilingual and are switching back and forth?

    Research says.... NOPE!

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  88. Children's Day, SF School and Friends all offer Spanish daily starting in pre-K or K.

    So there are already three schools that offer Spanish starting at an early age.

    Not sure how "infusion" is different...

    Too bad they didn't go for immersion.

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  89. Well, if it is not Immersion but are introducing "some" Spanish, then we are talking about "SPANGLISH"

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  90. This Infusion Model sounds like a very heavy dose of the FLES model that the District is using... somewhat similar the Japanese program at Rosa Parks, except even more so.. that's my take on it... that the children will learn some Spanish but be exposed also to a lot of the cultural aspects of Spanish on a daily basis -- more so than the other privates listed are doing (so its not just a 45 minutes of Spanish a day but actually Spanish infused into various parts of the day).

    But not quite immersion either.

    Will be interesting to see in practice -- it might suit what many parents want - since immersion is not for every child, but at the same time, more than just daily or every other day language class.

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  91. It looks like they don't yet have a head of school. This job was posted yesterday (3/9):

    http://sanfrancisco.jobing.com/job_details2.asp?JobID=1911270

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  92. Friends claims to do more than just 45 minutes a day, including references to Spanish and Spanish-speaking cultures throughout the day.

    THey brag about a play the kids wrote about the history of California in which some of the dialog was in Spanish as an example.

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  93. What *are* the cultural aspects of Spanish?

    I am from Latin America and it really bugs me when Americans talk about Hispanic culture.

    Cuban culture is quite different from MExican culture, Colombian culture or ARgentine culture, etc. We have about as much in common as Americans have with Australians, Irish, and Brits... language and religion, that's it.

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  94. Well, I promise you that kids in JBBP programs are not balanced bilinguals and therefore do not reap the full cognitive benefits of bilingualism.

    There are so many English speaking families that DO want Spanish-immersion and so few spots in SFUSD.

    It is a shame they are settling for a FLES model.

    Count me out. I'm willing to wait through the 10-day count for Kinder and again for first grade to get into immersion.

    So are most of my friends.

    I want my child to be fully bilingual, not just be able to order food at the burrito place in Spanish.

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  95. Does Escuela Bilingue Internacional have a school bus for SF kids?

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  96. I don't think so.

    I wonder if they would start a bus service if they had enough SF students.

    Does seeem far to go for school, though (Rockridge).

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  97. 8:12 -- good point, so hopefully, they would address differences between the various regions and countries...

    The Spaniards in Spain would think they are superior to all of their sprouts worldwide, the Cubans are sure they are superior to the Puerto Ricans and Central Americans, and the El Salvadoreans are probably certain they have little to do with the Argentines... yes, there are probably many differences and mainly similarities.

    If someone goes to the meeting from this blog, maybe they can post here what they find out.

    Curious model indeed.

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  98. Their marketing materials reference Hispanic culture, so maybe they mean Mexican-American (Chicano) culture and Nuyorican culture? You know, the culture of Spanish-speaking populations in the U.S.?

    The whole thing sounded like it was written by Anglo-Americans for Anglo-Americans.

    I didn't get the sense that there were any latinos involved in this venture.

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  99. Which culture(s) do they explore in public school immersion programs? Or do they just learn the language?

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  100. It varies from school to school and teacher to teacher, but Mexican culture is definitely explored through celebrations of Day of the Dead, Cinco de Mayo, a look at Aztec and Maya history in math and astronomy and various folklorico dance and art forms. But my kids have also studied Peruvian history and culture, Argentina, indigenous traditions from various countries, and made a study of African Latino cultures across several countries, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Atlantic Coast African descent cultures in Central America.

    Plus there are often "culture-sharing" days when each family shares from its ethnic culture. This includes not just Latino cultures, but sharings from all over the world--but since approx. half the kids are Latino, there is a huge mix from Mexico, Central American, Colombia, etc.

    The point is, there is a wealth of culture to draw on from the teachers and the families, so it is very easy to incorporate. Add in specific curriculum pieces and all-school events like Day of the Dead and Cinco de Mayo and it is really part of the warp and woof of the school experience. The kids definitely understand there is not one Latino culture, but many.

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  101. FYI, this may be a shock to y'all, but Cinco de Mayo is not a major holiday in Mexico, only in the U.S.

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  102. True, but it is a big holiday for the Mexican American / Chicano community and for the Mexican state of Puebla.

    Having been a parent at a public immersion school for 8 years, I attended that many years worth of assemblies, and got to learn the history--from the origins of the holiday as a celebration of a victory over French troops in 1862 all the way up to today's celebrations as a marker of Mexican American pride. The kids do a good job of explaining it every year :-).

    Also, the big holidays in Mexico and most of Latin American happens in September--their Independence Days from Spain.

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  103. WTF do the holidays in Latin America have to do with any of this? If I want my child to be educated by the PC diversity police, I will send her to public school.

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  104. Marin Prep talks about teaching kids about "Hispanic Culture"... there really isn't such a thing ;-)

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  105. Did anyone attend the information sessions today?

    We couldn't get a sitter but a neighbor who attended said the organizers sounded pretty confused about what they wanted the curriculum to be like. They want kids to be fluent in Spanish, but haven't really worked out how they'll achieve that and don't have anyone with relevant expertise helping them figure it out.

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  106. Oh, and they won't have any financial aid initially. (Unlike Friends which offered 20 percent of kindergarteners financial aid the year they opened.)

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  107. 8:15, the point is they promise to teach Hispanic culture(s) as well as Spanish language. The kids in public immersion programs get both in spades. No one would have brought it up if they were not marketing themselves that way. Sounds like you would want to keep your distance since you don't want your kids to know anything about Latin America, I mean God forbid your kid knows anything about our neighbors to the south, right.....[rolls eyes].

    Moving on, I'm trying to figure out how they could build a program around Hispanic or Latino cultures if they don't offer financial aid....will this be affluent and thus probably mostly white and monolingual kids learning Spanish and Latino cultures? Seems funny in a city with a significant Latino and Spanish-speaking population. Yes, I know there are some well-off Latino families but I wouldn't count on attracting them to this program as described so far. Financial aid would help a lot in attracting actual Latino families who might want this opportunity.

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  108. Not to mention, god forbid you would want your child to know something about his/her neighbors right here in SF {another eye roll}.

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  109. I was at the meeting and I didn't get the impression they've really studied *how* they are going to make sure the kids end up fluent in Spanish.

    They are definitely promising that as their goal: complete fluency.

    But the "infusion" model is completely made up. There are no other schools using an infusion model successfully. I wouldn't mind sending my child to the first "infusion" school if the model was created by an expert in the field who thought the model had promise.

    But that is not the case.

    For example, they have said that their teachers will speak to the children in both English and Spanish. That is the exact opposite of what the experts recommend (English teachers should speak in English, Spanish teachers in Spanish only).

    It may be true that they've been working on this school for five years, but it sounds as if they've spent that time looking at real estate, not figuring out the curriculum and language model.

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  110. It is one thing to "want your kids to know anything about Latin America," but quite another to "build a program around Hispanic or Latino cultures."

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  111. Well, okay, but that is what Marin Prep is promising to some degree, right, with their Spanish "infusion" program. That is what parents expect and commit to with a Spanish immersion program (and similarly in French culture and language in a French immersion, or Chinese culture and language in a Cantonese or Mandarin immersion program). That's how the topic of "Hispanic culture" curriculum came up. Can't really criticize the other posters for riffing on it when the school is marketing itself as providing that.

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  112. The name "language infusion" is made up. The model actually is not. I have a background in 2nd language acquisition, and what they are describing sounds like partial immersion, which is a tested and succesful model of 2nd language acquisition used in many many elementary schools.

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  113. You are giving them a lot of credit if you think they even know what partial immersion is.

    I don't think they have given the model much thought... just a bunch of monolingual executives brainstorming what might appeal to SF types... what special flavor they'd need to add to their indep school to do well in this market.

    They don't have any language acquisition experts helping them figure it out. They are just winging it.

    I don't think you'd find any partial immersion advocates comparing that model to a "tea bag" in hot water as one of the Marin Prep folks did at the afternoon meeting!

    This isn't a group of parents banding together hoping to raise bilingual, bicultural kids. This isn't even a group of bilingual educators looking to start an international school with Spanish as the target language. It is a corporate entity with no knowledge or background in language acquisition, international education or Spanish trying to come up with a marketing hook to launch a new independent school. And it shows.

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  114. I don't think they know what dual immersion is. I mentioned it because what they are proposing isn't a concept invented by BH. It is a tested model. However, I strongly agree with you, 11:02, they absolutely DO need language acquisition experts working with them in order to be successful. There were several points that were brought up at the meeting that were red flags for me, and if they were working with a language expert they would be absolutely clear on those things. Dual immersion IS a program that can work -- not like full immersion but certainly better than content-based learning. But they do need to work w/ experts in second language acquisition pedagogy to come up with clear, well articulated goals and objectives around language learning and what that looks like in the classroom.

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  115. Doesn't dual immersion imply that there are two groups immersing themselves in each other's language?

    My understanding is they are not recruiting/targeting native speakers of Spanish.

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  116. Woops! I didn't mean dual immersion. I mean partial immersion.

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  117. I was at the meeting yesterday as well. I think the jury is still out. Hopefully, Marin Prep will pick up on the feedback provided by 7:46 and others and will get substantial input from expert advisors.

    I have another concern that came out of the meeting. I overheard Lynn Kanter-Levy say that they can't promise that all of their teachers will have BAs. This struck me as odd. I can imagine scenarios where the school might justifiably make exceptions in this regard. However, especially given that Marin Prep implies they want to compete with well-established independents like FAIS, SF Day, Hamlin, etc., not to mention the fact that their goal is full fluency in Spanish by 8th grade, it seems that they have got to make it a priority to get a strong team of professionals with expertise in language acquisition (not just folks who are bilingual). This is where concerns about the profit motive and association with BH kick in. Teachers who don't have BAs don't cost as much...

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  118. Maybe she was talking about the Junior K/pre-K class?

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  119. Anyone else at the meeting care to re-cap?

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  120. I was at the meeting. Will try to recap for those interested. Using the questions someone else posted as a template.

    What is the difference between immersion and infusion?

    They say that they will be providing full spanish immersion classes from bilingual teachers for all subjects except English Lit/Grammar; Math and Science. Say that there is some research that tehre is some drawbacks to not having Math and Science taught in the 'native' language. (As an ed. comment - I think this is true in that kids taught Math and Science in a different language don't learn the academic english and don't test as well (because it's a test in english) not that english is somehow better for teaching Math and Science.) Becuase they are pulling these subjects out of the full immersion - they have come up with the infusion label. They said that the head teacher would be speaking only in spanish and the asst. in english to avoid the confusion / learning problem.

    What other schools have successfully implemented an infusion model?

    None that they cited or that I heard - "it's a leap of faith"

    How was the name Marin Prep chosen?

    They are part of the Marin Day Schools family. She said it was a placeholder. Made a joke about Jose Ortega being Mandarin Immersion.

    How many spaces do you have?

    24 per class. Pre-K and K. They will have two classes if there is enough demand but not exceed that ratio.

    How many of those do you anticipate will go to current MDS students?

    Open. No preference. Rolling admissions process. They will go to your childs preschool for assessment and the whole application process will be done in 4 weeks or so.

    Will you and how will you recruit native Spanish speakers to the program?

    They made some noises about trying to get the 50-50 or 33/33/33 model but acknowledged that at the beginning they will take whoever is interested and committed to the school.

    Will it be challenging for them?


    Do you offer financial aid?

    Not this year. Madde a claim that other Independents are not giving out much aid as well this year because everybody wants it. They are 14K BTW.

    Other issues:

    No head of school yet. Have been interviewing. Good candidates have commitments already fo rthis year.

    Hiring teachers.

    Claimed all Spanish speaking cultures would be incorporated. Cooking waa mentioned a lot.

    They want to be middle of the road - when it comes to porgressive vs. traditional academics. Immersion / English instruction etc.

    They have a lot to do and seem to be rolling out a year earlier than they should. Seemed reasonable overall - a bit corporate and not completely thought out.

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  121. The bilingual school I attended as a child taught Math and Science in both English and Spanish.

    One semester we would have Math in Spanish and Science in English. The following semester, we'd have Math in English and Science in Spanish. That way, we developed the vocabulary for Math and Science in both languages. (This was at the elementary school level).

    So it is not an all or nothing proposition.

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  122. That is the model in the public elementary immersion schools too--the core academic subjects taught in both languages, over time.

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  123. I would be curious to see if they ever will offer financial aid. Being part of a corporation, I don't believe they will be giving out much. They are filling a niche market at just 14K a year, they can say that it is already pretty cheap compared to the other privates. I'm not sure I could invest that much into an unknown entity and let my child be part of their experiment.

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  124. They said financial aid would be tight (or nonexistent?) this year. But while Marin Day Schools is managed by BH, they maintain their status as a not for profit, which means they can fundraise, which means they can offer financial aid.

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  125. The other two elementary schools that Birght Horizons manages in Michigan and WA have the ame proposed relationship that MP will have with Marin Prep and they both definitely provide financial aid. Not for several years though, I would think.

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  126. I just think it is sad that they are trying to reinvent the wheel with regards to the language component.

    There are thousands of bilingual schools around the world, from public schools aimed at immigrants, to public schools in countries that have more than one official language (Canada, Switzerland, Belgium), to elite "international" private schools in most major cities worldwide.

    Their various methods and models -- which have evolved over many decades of trial and error -- have been well studied, too.

    So why isn't B-H applying best practices culled from these schools or basing their pedagogy on a proven model?

    Why are they inventing something ("infusion") and ignoring established best practices (e.g. having each teacher speak in only one language to the kids)?

    It just doesn't make sense.

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  127. I have no problem with their inventing a language model, as long as they don't promise parents that their children will be bilingual in the end.

    It would be more honest for them to pitch themselves as a school with a strong, progressive curriculum and a stronger language component than other private schools.

    But to even hint that the kids will be bilingual when they graduate is dangerous. It is much easier said than done and it doesn't sound like they are on track to deliver on that promise.

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  128. San Francisco International School is a new PreK-5 that will be opening in September 2010. The school will be led by David Hughes, a former private school principal and the founder of Camp Doodles in Mill Valley.

    The philosophy is focused on progressive principles with an integrated curriculum that recognizes the Multiple Intelligences, ensuring that every child will flourish. As David says, "at SFIS, every student sits in the front row."

    The school is looking for adults who are prepared and motivated to play a role in the inception of this program (fundraising, marketing, facility location, etc.).

    If interested in this exciting opportunity, David has asked that I post some information and he encourages you to contact him at david@campdoodles.com with some background about yourself and how you might be interested in able to support this worthy development.

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