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Los Puentes project receives grant

GREENVILLE, NC   (Mar. 25, 2004)   —   Snow Hill Primary School's dual language immersion program, Los Puentes, received a $35,000 grant this month from the Braitmayer Foundation.

The funding, secured through the efforts of East Carolina University geography professor Rebecca Torres, will provide support materials for students and teachers enrolled in the Spanish-English educational program. Torres, who worked closely with Patricia MacNeill, Greene County Schools' director of instruction and federal programs, to implement the program, said she was thankful for the generosity of the Massachusetts-based foundation.

"I am delighted that the Braitmayer Foundation has awarded this grant to Los Puentes," Torres said. "Not only is it a strong vote of confidence for the dual language immersion model in North Carolina, it will also help us to strengthen and continue to grow our existing program."

This fall, the program will expand from kindergarten to first grade, enabling as many as 80 Snow Hill students to participate in the program. In response to demand from Greene County parents, two additional Los Puentes kindergarten classrooms will be added in the fall.

Los Puentes began last August in response to the growing numbers of native Spanish-speakers in Snow Hill Primary and in Greene County. Torres, a Snow Hill parent whose academic work tracks migration trends, said she wanted to find a way to help make Spanish-speakers feel more comfortable in their new surroundings. She also wanted to learn more about this burgeoning community.

The money will provide a dual language teacher development program, and will establish a Los Puentes fellowship for an ECU student. The fellow would work in the classrooms and provide support for related research initiatives, said Torres. She is optimistic Los Puentes could eventually serve as a model for other rural schools across North Carolina that are seeing increasing numbers of English as a Second Language students.



 


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