Greenpoint School First to Launch Polish Dual Language Program

Bilingual teacher Elizabeth Cząstkiewicz conducts classes in Polish to kindergarten children at P.S. 34 in Greenpoint. (Photo by Andrzej Cierkosz/Dobra Polska Szkola via Nowy Dziennik)

Bilingual teacher Elizabeth Cząstkiewicz conducts classes in Polish to kindergarten children at P.S. 34 in Greenpoint. (Photo by Andrzej Cierkosz/Dobra Polska Szkola via Nowy Dziennik)

At the beginning of the new school year, Greenpoint’s P.S. 34, 60 percent of whose students come from Polish immigrant families, launched a Polish dual language program. It is the first New York public school to offer instruction in both English and Polish.

The inauguration of the Polish Dual Language Program at P.S. 34 took place last September 10 and was attended not only by school representatives and parents but also by many officials, including Assembly member Joseph Lentol, Deputy Chancellor of the Dept. of Education Milady Baez, representatives of the Consulate General of Poland in New York, district 14th superintendent Alicja Winnicki, president of the Polish Supplementary School Council of America Dorta Andraka, as well as Marta Kustek and Andrzej Cierkosz from Dobra Polska Szkola, who ran an intensive pro-dual language program campaign; and Monika Herrera, MSEd, a trilingual school psychologist and member of a research board studying the influence of bilingual education on a child’s development.

“The dual language program is a wonderful opportunity for our students. In a world where the global economy requires adults to be bilingual and sometimes multilingual, I believe we are preparing our students for a bright future. Our school has a long history of excellence. Today we are adding another chapter to that history, which goes back to 1867,” said Carmen Asselta, the principal of P.S. 34.

Happy with P.S. 34’s new achievement was also its former principal and now superintendent Ms. Alicja Winnicki. “I am the best example of how being bilingual helps in life,” said Ms. Winnicki, who immigrated to the United States as an adult and learned English as a new language. “Children from ethnically-mixed families speak two, or sometimes three languages, fluently. And we know they develop quickly and are classified as gifted. This particular program will not only allow students to learn languages, it will enrich their educational experience in every way. I hope our American neighbors will also find the Polish Dual Language program appealing and let their children take advantage of it,” Ms. Winnicki added.

“According to my education and my personal background I can’t imagine not supporting the first Polish Dual Language program in New York City, a milestone in Polish-American relations regarding education,” said Consul General of Poland in New York Urszula Gacek, who was born and raised in Great Britain, where her Polish-born parents had emigrated and who learned Polish the way many Polish-American kids do – from parents and Polish schools.

The inauguration of the Polish Dual Language program at Greenpoint’s P.S. 34 was particularly good news to Marta Kustek, editor-in-chief of Dobra Polska Szkola, who has for the past year been heavily promoting the benefits of bilingualism, inspiring and bringing awareness to parents about the possibility of having Polish-American classes (or other dual language classes) launched in New York public schools their children attend. “Many schools in Chicago offer this program. We know that the New York school system can also do it and more importantly there is demand for programs like that. Introducing the Dual Polish Language program at P.S. 34 in Greenpoint is the first major step which will surely pave the way for other schools in districts inhabited by immigrants from Poland,” Ms. Kustek said.

Currently, the classes in Polish and English at P.S. 34 are offered in kindergarten and more than 20 children take advantage of the program. The Common Core material from kindergarten on will be taught in the Dual Polish Language program both in English and Polish.

The school, with the cooperation of parents, is going to raise funds to make the program available to kids in higher grades.

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  1. Pingback: – First Steps to a Polish Language Program in Ridgewood

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