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Unidos Middle School: What is a Language and Cultural Arts Integration Academy?



Unidos Middle School

Many people don’t know that NVUSD’s new Unidos Middle School is not only A Dual Language Immersion Pathway but a Language and Cultural Arts Integration Academy as well.

In the process of opening Unidos Middle School, two primary questions from parents emerged. To address those questions Director Monica Ready and Principal Alejandra Uribe held a Zoom webinar with Patrick Bolek the Executive Director of Artful Learning; the organization that will provide the model and professional development for cultural arts integration at Unidos.

Spanish Language Instruction for All

The most common parent question was whether Unidos was an option for their child even if they did not attend an elementary school in the dual language immersion pathway. 

The answer is yes! While Unidos will serve as the new pathway for our students continuing in the dual language immersion program, it’s also open to all students interested in learning Spanish. The dual language immersion pathway is complemented at Unidos by a pathway for those new to formal Spanish language instruction. Principal Uribe emphasized that this pathway served both new Spanish language learners and “heritage speakers” (home language is Spanish). You can see these two pathways organized in the following table. 

Members of FLAGG are joined by Coordinator Clarence Mamaril

Integrated Arts for All

The second most common question emerges when parents realize that Unidos does not offer elective courses. This is followed by the question,  “When will my child get to experience the visual and performing arts?” In fact, this is a common question among families making the transition from a DLI elementary school to a DLI middle school as they realize the same limitation in the schedule. 

The great news about opening Unidos is that it created the opportunity to solve this yearly dilemma. Because of the integration of cultural arts, students no longer need to choose between formal language instruction and formal art instruction.

By design, art will be integrated into every content area in every grade level. According to Bolek, there are four components to the framework of artful learning: experience, inquire, create, and reflect. E b“We train teachers how to reimagine their curriculum and provide an interdisciplinary approach for students that allow them a variety of voice and choice in how they express their understanding,” he said. Reflecting on her past experience as a middle school principal, Director Ready said, “This program will allow students to explore various modalities in the arts. So when they look at elective opportunities in high school such as visual arts and performing arts, they know what they want to dive deeper into in high school.”

Unidos Middle School was given the tagline, “Language and Cultural Arts Integration Academy” because it is intentionally designed for all students interested in learning in an environment rich in language and art. To learn more about Unidos Middle School and Artful Learning, we encourage you to watch the included video and visit the Artful Learning website. 

  • Unidos Middle School