Classrooms at Oaklawn and Collinswood language academies look — and sound — like a Spanish class. Teachers and students converse in Spanish. Signs and books written in Spanish are on walls and shelves throughout both schools. In fact, the classes are dual language-immersion programs. The programs are so popular that both schools have waiting lists. Now families will have another option. A new K-8 Spanish language immersion magnet, designated Albemarle Road relief school, will open in the 2018-2019 school year.

The new school will serve as a home school and a dual-language program to relieve overcrowding in nearby elementary schools and to expand the language immersion program.

Students in the dual-language program will receive instruction similar to that at Oaklawn and Collinswood. The program will start with K-1 in 2018-2019 and expand a grade level each year. Kindergarten students will become familiar with the new language as lessons are taught in Spanish for the entire instructional day. Students in the K-8 immersion track will have specific subjects taught in Spanish. Students in grades K-5 in the home school track will receive Spanish as a foreign language and students in grades 6-8 will receive Spanish I and II.

Carmen Concepcion will be the principal at the new school. She said all students should expect global themes to be a central part of the school culture. Teaching staff will also have diverse backgrounds.

“I want parents to know we will be an inclusive school,” said Concepcion. “As the former principal of Oaklawn, I plan to make this program as good as the one I’ve left. Oaklawn has been recognized as the top magnet in the nation in 2012 and in the state we were recognized for being a Title I Reward School for high progress.”

English-language learners in the non-immersion program will receive 90 minutes of curriculum content in their native language. The instruction provides selected basic skills and concepts in core subjects in the students’ native language as they acquire English.

“We have to meet our students were they are and help them grow so they can succeed,” said Concepcion. “We want to create an environment in which all our students’ background knowledge and personal experiences are valued and utilized.”

More than 45,000 students in CMS speak a language other than English at home. Overall, 205 languages are spoken by CMS students, who come from 186 countries. This year, CMS has 19,794 English Language learners, which is 18 percent of all English Language Learners in North Carolina.

Concepcion encourages the community to make recommendations for naming the new school. She is providing opportunities for community members to provide input: families can like the Albemarle Road Relief School on Facebook and visit to submit comments.

CMS Board Policy FF (Naming Facilities) requires that school names represent the geographic area or community in which the school is located, a historical figure or location, or an individual who is deceased whose name has special significance and /or who made an outstanding contribution to the school or school system, community, state or nation.

Concepcion will appoint a School Name Advising Committee to review, research and select three names to be presented to the superintendent. Those recommendations will then be sent to the Board for vote.

The construction project is funded with money from the 2013 bond referendum. Community members can learn about the school’s progress and view the architectural rendering and other progress photos, click here.

“It will be a new building but the program is tried and true,” said Concepcion. “I can’t wait to meet all of our families and get started on this journey with them.”