By Holly Brown, Redmond School District public information officer

REDMOND, Ore.- Lupe Chavez remembers struggling to learn English as a child. Her family spoke Spanish in their California home. They worked hard to get out of poverty, to find access to education so that she could have a better life. The move to Oregon was a culture shock for Chavez and it took until the 3rd or 4th grade for her to feel proficient in English. 

Today, the Ridgeview High School graduate helps native Spanish speakers as a Kindergarten teacher in the dual language program at Hugh Hartman Elementary. 

“[Dual language] is so important to connect to families and students,” said Chavez, who knew from her personal experience that it can be difficult for Spanish speaking families to communicate with schools. 

The dual language program started at Hugh Hartman in the 2017-2018 school year with two kindergarten classes, which are now in the 5th grade. The program is in a “roll up” process that adds a grade level each year, advancing with the initial class, which has been immersed in both English and Spanish from day one. This year, the 5th grade students are reunited with their prior 2nd grade teacher, Claudia Hernandez. 

Hernandez encourages her students to think analytically to bridge the two languages. She asks them “how can you relate your Spanish to English?”

“I had a student who didn’t know the word ‘sum’,” she recalled, but the student was able to relate it to a familiar word. “Suma?, so it wants me to add it?”

Both teachers see the value that the program brings to the community.

“Parents feel very welcomed,” Hernandez said. And for the students, she said it’s “more people you can speak your language with and share your home with.”

The staff includes a diverse Latinx population from Columbia, Argentina, El Salvador, and Mexico. The representation in the school is important for many students who spend their summers and holiday breaks returning to visit families in other countries.

“Having a dual language program opens up the opportunity to connect with our entire – really wonderfully diverse – community,” said Charan Cline, Redmond School District superintendent. “Our dual language instructors are doing such a great service to us all by helping our students grow into culturally competent individuals.”

Brittaney Cocciolo, who helped start the dual language program, said that dual language instructors are hard to find because of their unique skill set. “They need to have a really high level of proficiency in both languages and be able to read and write it.”

Chavez and Hernandez are two of several dual language teachers in the Redmond School District who have gone through the Pathway Program at George Fox University. The Pathway Program is a degree completion program that offers flexibility for a non-traditional student.

Katy Turpen, associate professor at George Fox University, said that the program really benefits students who are an integral part of their family unit. Pathway Program students can stay at home, work, and save money with a convenient Ridgeview High School campus location that meets one night per week and one Saturday per month.

Chavez said that transferring to the program from Central Oregon Community College was easy and felt personable. “They said, ‘Here is what you need’ and they created a plan for me.” 

And when Chavez started her first full time teaching position on an emergency license, she took comfort in knowing that Turpen and the staff believed in her abilities and had recommended her for the position. 

“My first year I was feeling really nervous and questioning myself – do I belong?” Chavez said. “But then I thought, they talked to the teachers I worked with, they talked to Katy at George Fox, if they think I can do it, I belong here.”

Hernandez also had a great experience in the program. “I love their willingness to help and really guide you,” she said about the instructors. “It was incredible.”

Some students receive a Grow Your Own grant, which helps significantly with tuition costs. Chavez said the program also helped her find a job as an Instructional Assistant to make money and gain experience while she was in the program. She recommends that anyone who thinks they might be interested in being a teacher should try being an Instructional Assistant first. “They do so much for us.” She said it’s a great way to experience working with different age groups to find a good fit. 

As for the kids who have been in the dual language program since kindergarten, speaking two languages at school is  business as usual. “It’s not that hard to switch, once you get used to it, it’s easy to switch,” said 5th grader Austin Gibbons. 

“I think it’s really beautiful,” said Hernandez, “I welcome people to stop by and see how our bilingualism works.”

Notice of Non-Discrimination

Redmond School District is committed to equal opportunity and non-discrimination in all of its educational and employment activities.

The District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, religion, disability, marital status or age in its programs and activities.

The following individuals have been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination:

District 504 Contact:
Tami Nakamura, Director of Student Support | Email | (541) 923-8258

District Title VI, Title IX, Age Discrimination & American Disabilities Act:

Kelly Hicks, Director of Human Resources | Email | (541) 923-8922
Heather Petersen, Assistant Director of Human Resources/DEI Specialist | Email | (541) 923-8924

View our Discrimination Complaint/Grievance Procedure

View our Public Complaint Policy Procedure

Redmond School District | 145 SE Salmon Drive. | Redmond, OR | 97756 | P: 541.923.5437