General Education Program
Alvarado has two programs, General Education (also known as “English Plus Pathway”) and Spanish Immersion. There are two primary differences between the programs: General Education students receive no Spanish language instruction during school hours, and the General Education classroom does not have a formula for balancing native Spanish and native English speaking children.
Their similarities are greater. There is considerable emphasis on Latino culture across the programs. We celebrate the Day of the Dead; we host Fiesta Latina, an evening program of dance and Central American food; we put on a Spring Carnival modeled on Latin American celebrations.
Alvarado follows state standards for math, science, social studies and language arts. In addition, a PTA-funded program coordinator links teachers with our PTA-funded science, art and physical education instructors to ensure that classroom content is supported and broadened by activities outside the room.
Our teachers take learning outside the classroom, too. Alvarado students take many field trips, usually in groups of two classrooms, often with groups from both the General Education and the Spanish Immersion programs. Last year two fourth-grade classes visited the Marin Headlands Institute, all four classes of kindergardeners visited the California Academy of Sciences, and one fourth/fifth-grade class visited the Academy twice. Third graders traveled downtown to see an ODC performance of the Velveteen Rabbit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
The class structure is the same for the General Education and the Spanish Immersion programs. There are two classrooms for kindergarten, first, second and third grades. There is one fourth-grade class, one fifth-grade class and one classroom split between fourth and fifth graders. This “4/5 split” represents one of our spending priorities: we use money from the district to hire an extra teacher for the upper grades, thereby keeping our class sizes relatively small.
The composition of each class changes each year as children are shuffled and distributed into new classrooms for the next grade, based on staff assessments. This creates a larger circle of friends and familiar faces for each child while making the entire school a more tightly knit community.