Worcester Bilingual School opens former St. Stephen School
WORCESTER – With just over a month before the start of the new school year, the district is preparing for the opening of its new bilingual school, a “milestone” for schools in the city, said Superintendent Maureen Binienda.
Over the next few weeks, the school department will paint the walls, install wireless internet and install security cameras at the former St. Stephen School on Grafton Street, which the city entered into earlier this year for a five-year lease. .
âI think this is an important step for the district,â said Binienda, who added that there is a âgrowing precedentâ for such bilingual schools.
âThere is also a push from the (state) department of primary and secondary education,â she said, to offer more bilingual programs in general.
The new Worcester school, which will serve grades K-6, will teach students in English and Spanish, although Binienda has said she would like to add more languages ââin the future.
Most of the students will come from the district’s existing bilingual program at Roosevelt School, an arrangement the school department presented to parents at several meetings last year, according to the superintendent.
The school, which will initially accommodate around 200 students, will also fill a few remaining enrollment slots.
The school will be run by former North High School vice-principal Elizabeth Lupafya, who has two of her own children in the district’s bilingual programs, according to Binienda. In total, the school is budgeted for 18 employees, including 11 teachers.
While most of these positions have been filled, the school department is still looking for a nurse and to identify a teacher who will serve as assistant administrator at Lupafya, Binienda said.
School officials also submitted a potential name for the school to the school committee for review, but Binienda said she could not yet reveal it publicly.
Plans for the bilingual school emerged shortly after St. Stephen’s School closed last June, leaving behind a building that officials saw as an ideal location for the program. But the city still went through a public tendering process for the proposed school lease, which ultimately led to the agreement, reached in March, to lease St. Stephen.
The school is the latest example of the expansion of Worcester’s bilingual programs, which are currently based at Chandler Magnet Primary School, Roosevelt, Woodland Academy and Burncoat Middle School and High School.
According to the school department, dedicating an entire school building to bilingual education has several advantages, including a shared mission and a sense of unity in the school, an overall emphasis on bilingualism and a reduction in the teaching load for teachers.
There is also more space now for bilingual classes; the St. Stephen building can accommodate 18 people in total, according to Binienda, bringing the school’s total enrollment capacity to around 360 students.
Binienda said that an increased focus on teaching students in multiple languages ââultimately “makes senseâ¦ it’s a global society now, and these kids are talking to people in all parts of the world.”
Scott O’Connell can be reached at Scott.O’[email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ScottOConnellTG