Program Overview

Mission Statement and Core Values

The mission of Fuente Nueva Charter School is to empower kindergarten through fifth grade students to become engaged world citizens through a challenging and creative Spanish immersion program that emphasizes academic excellence, the arts, community involvement, and social responsibility.

We Value:

  • a supportive and stimulating academic environment that nurtures the whole child,
  • multilingual communication abilities and appreciation,
  • empathy, compassion, and respect for cultural and ecological diversity,
  • a lifelong love of learning,
  • collaboration and team work among community members.

Spanish Immersion

At Fuente Nueva we are excited to offer a full Spanish immersion program. Students learn a second language by studying all core content areas in Spanish.  Lessons are supported with teaching strategies that enable students to build their language skills while also mastering the objectives of the lesson.  English is formally introduced in second grade with just four hours of instruction a week.  The amount of formal English instruction increases as the students matriculate through the grades.  Students gain a strong foundation in their second language by learning to read and write in Spanish first. Studies show that this is the most effective way for immersion students to gain the most proficiency in both a first and second language. To read extensive information about our immersion program see the area on the website entitled, “What is Immersion Education”.

Core Subjects

Each classroom teacher brings their own talents and strengths to the classroom in order to carry out the mission of our school. The core values are threaded throughout all classroom instruction. State-adopted curriculum is used during language arts, math, and science. Social studies is taught following the state standards using a variety of curriculum including: high quality purchased materials, teacher created materials and resources from the community.  Teachers use the state adopted curriculum as a foundation for teaching and then add in their own personalized touches to meet the needs of their particular students.

Within each classroom teachers use ability-based grouping to provide an opportunity for students to excel at their own level. It is also common for teachers to incorporate cross-ability tutoring and group work to enable the students involved to strengthen their understanding of a concept by teaching or learning from a peer. Collaboration and group work are an essential part of all classrooms.

While each classroom has its own unique environment, teachers work closely to unify our approach across the grades. We are continually coordinating efforts to ensure a smooth transition from one grade level to the next. Weekly staff meetings and a small teaching staff enable a shared leadership for this task. Parent feedback and involvement in the educational program is always welcomed and encouraged.

Parent Support of Second Language Development

A parent’s participation in their child’s education is directly connected to a student’s academic and emotional development. We have found that our most successful immersion students are the ones whose parents provide consistent support for their child’s language acquisition and education.  This support can take many forms.  It can be as simple as being your child’s cheering section for when school is challenging to helping your child with their primary home language development.  Instilling a value of respect for a multilingual and multicultural world helps the students to see the purpose in their studies of a second language. Studies show and we have seen that students who are given a reason to use their Spanish are more likely to take risks and speak in Spanish. We count on parents to play a strong role in helping to nourish their child’s language development by using simple Spanish phrases in the home, watching a TV show in Spanish or finding other creative ways to use Spanish outside of the classroom. There are many ways for parents to support their child’s education. Immersion students who are eager and invested in their language development (or any part of their schooling) will perform better and develop a love of learning.

Supporting your child’s primary home language is also an important component to your child’s success in their second language. It is very important that students be encouraged to continue their native language development. When parents ask about the best ways they can help their child at home, we reply that the child should have the opportunity to read extensively in her own language. We suggest that parents make some time every evening to discuss with their child, in their native language, what she has done in school that day: ask her to talk about the science experiment she did, question her about her understanding of primary and secondary sources of historical information, have her explain how she has solved a math problem, etc.

As one of the world’s leading experts on bilingual education and second language acquisition Cummins states: “Conceptual knowledge developed in one language helps to make input in the other language comprehensible.” If a child already understands the concepts of “justice” or “honesty” in her own language, all she has to do is acquire the label for these terms in English. She has a far more difficult task, however, if she has to acquire both the label and the concept in her second language.”

Intervention and Special Needs

Classroom Support

All students learn in different ways on different days. At Fuente Nueva, staff work to meet the diverse needs of students by providing individualized behavioral and educational plans that support each student’s learning experience. Title I services are provided for students who are at risk of falling below grade level standards. Students with a higher need for services are assessed and given formalized Individual Education Plans with the support of the parents, our resource and intervention teachers, the classroom teacher, and the Director.

Immersion and Special Needs

The overriding opinion in the bilingual education field is that while there is not a lot of conclusive research about the effectiveness of an immersion program for students with special needs it is commonly felt that most students can and will perform well in an immersion program. Students with mild learning disabilities and delays are well supported by the variety of techniques that are common in a language immersion classroom that are also regularly utilized strategies for the struggling learner. Pre-identified language-processing difficulties should seriously be considered prior to enrollment. Still, many children with mild learning disabilities, knowledgeable teachers, and supportive families can and do achieve well in immersion programs and develop proficiency in a second language.

Character Education

We believe that everyone has the right to a safe, nurturing, and challenging learning environment. Additionally we strongly value the impact that Character Education can have on a child’s whole school experience.  At Fuente Nueva, we all agree to have respect for each other and our school space by following our Guidelines for Success. They are: I care for myself, I care for others, and I care for my school.

In the beginning of the school year the students and teachers work together to develop classroom contracts that reinforces and expands on our Guidelines for Success. Throughout the year weekly character words are studied to reinforce what it means to care for oneself, care for others, and to care for the school. A lesson on the character word is given during our Monday all school assembly and students who were exemplary examples of the word are given recognition during our Friday assembly.

During daily interactions with our students, we model respectful and caring behavior. Starting in kindergarten, students are given weekly lessons that help them to build empathy, compassion, and conflict resolution skills. Through our character studies program we aim to support the students’ academic journey by explicitly teaching character traits that are tied to lifelong success.  Additionally, students are given a series of lessons on anger management, conflict resolution, telling vs. tattling, preventing bullying, and more. This school environment builds self-esteem and inspires success for all of our students.

To provide a safe learning environment students learn clear boundaries and develop skills to make good choices by having defined positive and negative consequences for their behavior. Students’ efforts in this regard are recognized with a variety of intrinsic and external rewards. In the event that a child does not follow the school rules, a three-step process will be initiated: first they are given a clear reminder, next they receive a warning and finally, if the disruption continues, a fair and predictable consequence occurs. Examples of consequences include being removed from the activity, moving to a refocus table, or the loss of a privilege. More serious consequences include a conference with the Director and a phone call to parents. Standard disciplinary actions such as loss of privilege and suspension may be utilized when appropriate.

We ensure that students know this progression of consequences and therefore they are able to feel safe and have a clear understanding of expectations.  Above all else, the key to student success is clear communication and collaboration between teacher, director, and parents.  It is through this partnership that we can provide the best environment for kids at school and home.

The Arts

Artistic expression is also a pedagogical goal of our curriculum. Imaginative problem solving, group cooperation, cultural awareness, and high self-esteem are all reinforced through a well-balanced art curriculum. In our program we explore the full spectrum of artistic expression through the study of visual arts, theater, movement, and music.

Our arts program is partially funded by parent donation and fund raising. This past year our parents donated $100 per year per student. This contribution is requested of every parent and is an important part of our arts budget, making up about half of our total arts program funding. Scholarships are available as this is a donation, not a required payment.

Visual Arts

Local artist and teacher Damian Campos provides art instruction to our students. Damian brings the students an opportunity to explore culture and history through art.  His teaching philosophy provides students foundational techniques and strategies used in the creation of art in many forms.  This year Damian plans to lead the students in the creation of the set and props for the spring Readers’ Theatre performance.

Readers’ Theatre

Twice a year, students in all grade levels participate in a Readers’ Theatre performance in both English and Spanish. Performances vary from the traditional presentation of a book, read and acted out, to a more elaborate theatrical performance. This opportunity builds self-confidence and self-esteem while giving students an opportunity to work on public speaking and theatrical skills. The performance is also a chance for Spanish language skills to be showcased in a community format. Parents, staff, and community volunteers provide the support needed for these events. Readers’ Theatre has grown to be a loved tradition by the students and greater community.

Physical Education/Music and Movement

A healthy mind needs a healthy body. Our students are engaged in a variety of physical education opportunities under the guidance of Adeena McBurney. Our curriculum teaches them a variety of traditional sports along with creative cooperative games that create character in addition to providing physical exercise. Positive sportsmanship skills are promoted and physical skills are taught while students learn about the importance of keeping their bodies healthy.  As a Zumba instructor Adeena has also brought students a love of movement through teaching the ZumbaKids.  The students get infected with the joy of dancing to upbeat Latin rhythms through ZumbaKids.

Lunch Program

Nourishing our bodies with a balanced diet is essential for a well prepared learner. We contract with the Arcata School District to provide a nutritious and kid-friendly lunch program. The district staff is committed to continual improvement of their program, including many local and organic ingredients. A salad, local dairy milk and fresh fruit is also served with every meal. Students who qualify may receive a free or reduced-price lunch. The regular cost of a lunch is $3.50 and is ordered on a daily basis.

Familias

With a strong value placed on community, Fuente Nueva has created a program to help foster cross-age relationships in our school. Familias is a weekly lesson where students are combined into a group that includes students of all grade levels. Returning students remain in the same Familia each year in order to build long-term friendships and understanding. Each teacher and the Director teach the Familia lesson for a four-week session. Each student is given a passport at the beginning of the year.  They “travel” to a different Spanish speaking region of the world as they visit each teacher.  While the lessons are cultural in nature the teachers choose lessons that also help to develop connections between the students. This program is a rewarding and essential building block to the familia that we call Fuente Nueva.

Extended Day Program

We look upon our aftercare program as a relaxed extension of our school day. During aftercare, children have the opportunity to participate in both structured and unstructured arts and crafts, additional extracurricular activities, citizenship, extended reading and story time, homework club and of course, ample free play. In addition, it is important for us that the children have the opportunity to develop life skills centered on the activities and chores of the aftercare program itself. We welcome visiting parents into the aftercare program and would be happy to hear from any parents who wish to organize a special activity or lesson.

Aftercare is offered from dismissal until 5:30 p.m. A fee of $3.75 is charged per contracted hour for this service. Drop-in rates are $4.50 per hour. Subsidized childcare is available through Changing Tides Family Services. It is recommended that you contact them as soon as possible in order to become eligible for low-cost/no-cost childcare. Changing Tides can be reached at 444-8293.

Before-care is also offered starting at 7:30 a.m. and is located in Room 7. The charge for this service is $1.75/day regardless of any drop off time between 7:30 a.m. and 8:15 a.m.