George Ayres and Jill Neary
Welcome to Spanish at Highland Park.
Thank you for sharing your children with me. I look forward to a fun and exciting year of working with Highland Park Scotties!
The Spanish Enrichment Program at Highland Park introduces students to Spanish and the Spanish-speaking culture. I hope to encourage students to pursue the study of Spanish, gaining a familiar understanding of it in order to help them as they progress to middle and high school.Highland Park parents and faculty established the Spanish program in the Spring of 1992 because of a belief in the linguistic and cultural value of studying a second language, and of beginning the study in school as soon as possible. A Spanish exposure curriculum is offered at Highland Park for students in Kindergarten through Fifth Grade. Students receive one Spanish lesson per week of approximately 30-45 minutes.
There are four goals of the Highland Park Spanish program:
- Communication – the student communicates in Spanish
- Cultures – the student gains knowledge and understanding of other cultures
- Connections – the student connects with other disciplines and acquires information
- Comparisons – the student develops insight into the nature of language and culture
The curriculum is organized around content areas, including the alphabet, home, family, classroom objects, body parts, animals, physical states, weather, seasons, nature, telling time, months of the year, food, cognates, opposites, clothing, likes and dislikes, geography of Spanish-speaking countries, Hispanic heritage, and holiday celebrations, to name a few.
Most content areas are repeated at each grade level to allow for vocabulary review and to promote the sequential development of language learning: understanding, speaking, reading, and writing
In the lower grades, the primary stress is on understanding and speaking. A typical lesson plan in Kindergarten and First Grade might include:
- short dialogue
- questions and answers with manipulatives
- songs and/or games
- reading simple books aloud
In Grades 2 and 3, reading and writing skills are introduced with:
- vocabulary lists
- simple dictation
- word games
- written activities
- role-playing and skits
All four components are developed in Grades 4 and 5 with:
- dialogues and skits
- short presentations
- written activities
As we move forward, I will post progress of grade levels, including the curriculum we cover, our class work, activities and vocabulary.
SPEAKER SERIES AND AFTER-SCHOOL CLUBS
I hope to include a Speaker Series this year, inviting Spanish-speaking guests to share their cultural experiences with my classes. I also plan to continue to offer an after-school Spanish Club and a Creative Writing Club, and will provide more information about both of those opportunities at a later date.
I am the father of four daughters who spent their elementary school years at Highland Park, and who are all taking Spanish in middle and high school.
I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish Literature, have taught bilingual Kindergarten and First Grade in the Houston Independent School District, and have tutored elementary and middle school students in Spanish.
I am also a writer, playwright and screenwriter. My fiction, articles and essays have appeared in a variety of publications around the country. I have had plays produced in New York and Austin, and have written and produced award-winning short films as well. I have also been a marketing writer for the Texas Department of Agriculture, and have been the Social Media Director for the Sun Valley Film Festival. I hope to bring my writing, theatre and film experience to the Spanish Enrichment program as we build and re-enforce our Spanish vocabulary.
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.