DELAVAN — Ron Sandoval, the newly hired Delavan-Darien School District Director of Bilingual School and Community Education, knows a thing or two about Dual Language and English Language Learner classroom instruction.
He has administered the Dual Language programs in two Southeastern Wisconsin schools and taught ESL for more than five years. Both of the Dual Language programs he has administered have been models for various Midwestern and international schools that were looking to develop Dual Language Immersion classrooms.
Sandoval hopes to make Delavan-Darien Schools a national leader in education by developing a new, top-notch Dual Language Immersion program that will result in bilingual, biliterate and bicultural learners who are prepared to thrive in today’s global society.
“When I see the progress this district is making and the goals that it has, I see that it’s moving in the right direction,” said Sandoval, noting the district’s strategic plan. “Pretty much everyone I’ve been talking to since the beginning of the interview process has the same vision; to serve students and give them the best education possible in Delavan-Darien Schools.”
Sandoval came to the district having last been a directing principal at the Dr. Beatrice O. Jones Elementary School in Racine. Prior to that, he was an assistant principal at the Edward Bain School of Language and Art in the Kenosha School District.
At both schools, he administered the Dual Language and English Language Learner programs, which he plans to implement and reshape, respectively, in the Delavan-Darien School District.
The main focus this year will be two fold: first, to educate the general public about the benefits that Dual Language education offers learners of all backgrounds and nationalities; and secondly, to provide staff development in Dual Language philosophy and instructional methods. In the 2014-2015 school year, the program will start in kindergarten and possibly first grade. The program, which was called for in the district’s strategic plan, will then grow incrementally by grade.
“I want this program to be a magnet program, not just for students in town, but for students all over the area,” Sandoval said.
He also wants to have people statewide and nationally look to the program as a successful educational model for all students, not just for Hispanics or other minority language speakers.
“Students who will be in this program will be getting a great advantage,” Sandoval said. “From the research and the work I’ve done, I know that Dual Language works, if implemented well. Students in the program often score more proficient and advanced in all subject areas when compared to their monolingual peers.”
Also, by being bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural, Delavan-Darien High School graduates will be better prepared to contribute as adults in a global, 21st Century economy. They will leave Delavan-Darien schools more employable and with more marketable skills.
“In a few years, more of our students will be fluently speaking two of the most widely spoken languages in the world,” Sandoval said. “No matter how smart other students are, if they only speak English, they can’t compete as well on the world stage. Not only will Delavan-Darien students be more prepared to compete, but it will be easier for them to learn additional languages because their brains are better wired for language acquisition.”
In addition to developing the Dual Language program, Sandoval will also focus on ensuring district English Language Learner (ELL) students are receiving the best education possible, whether they are enrolled in the upcoming Dual Language program or not.
“For many of our Latino students, a major obstacle they have to overcome when they come to the U.S. is language acquisition,” Sandoval said. “Many of them are academically ready and capable, but because of language barriers, they sometimes cannot easily prove that.”
Sandoval plans to use his experience working with ELL students to restructure ELL instruction in the district. The goal is to see measurable gains in the English language proficiency of the district’s ELL students that will result in higher achievement in other academic areas.
“Developing a Dual Language program and reshaping the way ELL students are taught in the district will take time,” Sandoval said. “We need to focus on individuals’ nationalistic feelings about language and open their eyes to seeing languages as an educational tool.”
He feels that he needs to help others understand that the shift in the global influences of non-English speaking countries makes bilingualism and multilingualism an important aspect of current and future society.
Finding the right mix of staffers to implement a Dual Language program is also a priority for Sandoval. He intends to find many of the resources for Dual Language and ELL programs within the community. Providing professional development and working with higher educational institutions will give current staff the skills they need to successfully implement Dual Language and reshape ELL instruction.
Sandoval started with the district July 1 and, over the next couple of weeks, plans to meet with available ELL and Spanish-speaking staff members to get a sense of their ideas about language acquisition, to share his vision, and hear their initial thoughts and ideas about the programs.
Work Experience: Directing Principal at Dr. Beatrice O. Jones Elementary School in Racine (2012-2013); Assistant Principal at Edward Bain School of Language and Art in Kenosha (2007-2012); ELL teacher in the Lake Geneva School District, Central-Denison Elementary School (2001-2007); Transitional Bilingual Education teacher, Carpentersville, Ill. (2000-2001).
Education: Wisconsin Educational Administration Licensure, UW-Madison (2006); Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction, UW-Whitewater (2004); Bachelor’s Degree in Education, U.S. Equivalencies determined by Consultancy on International Education, Champaign, Ill. (2000); studied teaching at The Central College of Teaching for Men and the University of Guatemala Valley in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Sandoval has attended numerous professional development conferences, seminars and trainings focused on Dual Language Programs, biliteracy, and language programs. His master’s degree thesis was on stakeholder feelings, understanding of bilingualism and Implementation of a Dual Language Program within a rural Southeastern Wisconsin school district.
Personal: Sandoval grew up in El Salvador and Guatemala. He studied there and came to the U.S. to escape economic hardship. While in the Chicago area, he met his wife Bridget, who, along with other friends and family encouraged him to teach in the U.S. and get his Masters degree. He has four children, Tammy, Francheska, Melody and Nikolai. Sandoval also lived in Delavan for about six years while he worked in the Lake Geneva and Kenosha School Districts. He is excited to be back in the area and is working on moving back to the community.
Fun facts: Sandoval earned his Eagle Scout award while in Guatemala. He has also served as a Sunday school teacher and in various administrative councils of the Church of Latter-Day Saints in Elkhorn, Kenosha, Chicago, Rockford and in Guatemala. He loves Latin dancing, reading, soccer, biking, cooking, and caring for his plants and bonsai trees. He also loves music from the 1960’s on (particularly Rock and Roll and Latin music), but he is most fond of music from the 80’s.
Quotable: “When developing programs and addressing concerns brought to me by educational staff, parents or students, I always ask, ‘What is best for students?’ I will do whatever it takes to do what is best for students, even if it means moving out of my comfort zone. I expect others in the district to do the same.”