Bagdad Elementary School is one of Leander ISD’s One-Way Dual Language campuses. The program supports the goal to produce bilingual, bi-cultural and bi-literate students. For example, students whose primary language is Spanish would learn in English and Spanish. Ana Zepeda, dual language first-grade teacher at Bagdad ES, said this gives the students an advantage later on in life.

“This program really helps support our students’ first language while building their second, making them truly bilingual and bi-literate students,” Zepeda said.

During PreK through first grade, students learn language arts in their native language. As they enter second through fifth grades, students learn language arts in English and Spanish. Furthermore, all students learn mathematics in English, whereas science and social studies are taught in Spanish.

Beatriz Campuzano, fifth-grade dual language teacher, said solidifying the students’ first language benefits their ability to learn English. Campuzano uses the school reading goals to encourage her students to read in both languages. For example, the students have a “Biography Ninja Wall.” When a student reads two biographies (one in English and one in Spanish), and then completes a report over the books, they earn a colored “belt” on the wall. The students enjoyed the challenge so much, Campuzano added more belt colors throughout the year.

“My role is to encourage students to read out of their comfort zone, to explore different genres and make reading fun,” Campuzano said.