Grand Prairie ISD is partnering with educators from Alaska in a move to preserve native languages. The North Texas school district is helping the Lower Kuskokwim School District of Bethel, Alaska, build its dual-language program.
Grand Prairie was the first school district to implement the “Gomez & Gomez” model, an approach to biliteracy and biculturalism that conducts core subjects in two languages. Teaching in both English and Spanish, the North Texas district has mastered the dual-language system over the past 20 years.
Now, the Alaskan district is enlisting GPISD’s help to build its own.
Per NBC 5 News, the partnership between the two districts was formed 12 years ago. As part of the partnership, teachers and leaders from the Lower Kuskokwim School District of Bethel, Alaska, visited Grand Prairie ISD in February.
Many students in Alaska are learning Yugtun (also known as Central Alaskan Yup’ik), the state’s most prevalent native language. In a bid to honor and preserve the local language, the district hopes that it can have a program as robust as Grand Prairie ISD’s.
Christina Robbins of the Lower Kuskokwim School District said the districts share a common goal: protecting and celebrating a language native to their region.
“We found that while our makeup is significantly different, we have the same goals, the same passion, and the same interest in preserving the language – and having our students have ownership of who they are. And having that be highlighted in both languages so that they can be successful in both worlds,” she said.
Lower Kuskokwim has 1,000 students in its program. Robbins said that the school district consists of 21 different campuses, which makes the program hard to achieve in Alaska. With the help of Grand Prairie ISD, she believes that the district will build a working system without the hassle of teachers traveling to campuses in other communities.