In 2000, Wharton became the first school-wide Dual Language Magnet Program in HISD. By integrating English and Spanish-speaking children in the classroom, our students become bilingual, bi-literate and bi-cultural. In addition, they respect and appreciate our increasingly diverse community. Our PK students have the advantage of receiving instruction for half a day in Spanish and half a day in English. Our kindergarten through 5th grade magnet program is an 80:20 immersion model with 80% instruction in Spanish and 20% in English in kindergarten. Each year, English instructional time increases by 10% until 4th grade, where there is a balance of 50% English and 50% Spanish. Our Middle School Dual Language Magnet Program (6th-8th) offers a rigorous college preparatory program while continuing to develop high-level academic Spanish. By the end of 8th grade, students complete the foreign language requirement for the HISD Recommended High School Diploma and have the opportunity to earn four high school credits, including Algebra I and one college credit through the AP Spanish exam.
In recognition of its well-established PK-8 Dual Language Program, Wharton was selected as one of only 37 schools throughout the United States and Canada selected to become an International Spanish Academy (ISA) by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Kingdom of Spain. The goal of this cooperative partnership is to support high–quality Spanish-English bilingual education programs in the U.S. and Canada.
Each year, Wharton hosts a Spanish Language and Culture Assistant to work with students. The Department of Education of the Spanish Embassy, which sponsors this program, selects Spanish Language and Culture Assistants to work with individuals and small groups of students to share Spanish culture and language.
Other benefits of this partnership include supplemental materials from the Houston Resource Center of the Department of Education of the Spanish Embassy and Professional Development seminars in Spain during the summer for educators. As part of our participation in the ISA, each student who has successfully completed at least four years at Wharton will receive a Certificate of Completion of Studies fully recognized by the Kingdom of Spain. “We’re particularly proud of our collaboration because it means that the Spanish government recognizes Wharton’s program as a high-quality Spanish–English Dual Language Program,” Ms. Day said.