Focus School: The Columbus School
With our new tagline, ‘Create, Connect, Inspire,’ The Columbus School (TCS) is beginning its WIDA system journey. At just more than 8,000 feet (2,440 meters), TCS occasionally finds itself immersed in clouds or with spectacular views of the ever-changing City of Eternal Spring, Medellín. TCS is home for more than 1,700 students from preschool (K4) through Grade 12 and around 340 staff members. With 94 percent of students coming from our host country of Colombia, and 98 percent of the student body made up of native Spanish speakers, TCS is building our school culture to embrace the multilingual identity of everyone learning on our campus. Almost 50 percent of our staff are bilingual, with many employees working hard in language classes or chatting in the hallways to develop and/or maintain their language skills while building meaningful connections in our community.
This year, TCS formed a new role – Language Development Coordinator – and has created both a teacher and student committee designed to explore the language learning strengths and needs (both Spanish and English) of all our students. During the first semester of the 2019-2020 school year, we began an Appreciative Inquiry process. We are collecting data through surveys, interviews/focus groups, policy reviews, student work analysis, and classroom observations. With this data, our school is working to build upon its assets and develop a five-year plan that meets the language and learning needs of our students.
To support this discovery and planning process, the WIDA Essential Actions, Guiding Principles, and Focus Bulletins have served as backbones to our work.