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Petition seeks dual-language program in schools
spanish lady 2
Cheyenne Kozaily, left, founder of Bilingual Familia Consulting & International School in Richmond Hill, reads to kids during her weekly bilingual story hour at the Richmond Hill Library. Kozaily has launched a petition on urging local schools to being a dual-immersion program that will teach local kids to be bilingual in English and Spanish. - photo by Jeff Whitte

A Richmond Hill woman is hoping to convince Bryan County Schools to offer classes to help kids become fluent in English and Spanish.
Cheyenne Kozaily has launched a petition on the website asking the school districts in both Bryan and Chatham counties to offer a dual immersion program in Spanish and English at the elementary school level.
It’s necessary, she said, in a world where nearly 70 percent of its people speak two or more languages.
“I think parents are starting to recognize that to really be global citizens and be successful in the future, our kids will need to speak at least two languages,” Kozaily said. “The best way to that is not start at 12 years old, but start as early as possible.”
And she’s not talking about one Spanish class a week, either. Kozaily said kids need to be totally immersed in that second language, which means learning math, science, language arts, reading and writing in Spanish — what she called the most practical second-language for most U.S. kids to learn.
“Everything they get in English they’d get in Spanish as well, and eventually they’ll be as good in Spanish as they are in English,” she said.
The petition has close to 50 signatures so far. And Kozaily, a businesswoman and former public school teacher from Atlanta who owns Bilingual Familia Consulting and International School, said she’s in it for the long haul with local schools.
“My goal was to start this now knowing it’s going to be a long process,” she said.
Kozaily, who said she understands schools are facing financial challenges, hasn’t approached Bryan County Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Brooksher, saying she’ll wait until she has enough signatures on her petition to convince him and other leaders the program is something people want.
“If and when they tell me, ‘Great idea but there’s no money,’ I’ll ask them, ‘What can I do to change that? What can I do to write a grant or network with other people who have the capital to support it?’” Kozaily said. “I’m certainly not interested in raising taxes. I’m a property owner, too.”
Brooksher declined comment Friday.
Were Bryan County Schools to offer a dual immersion program, the system wouldn’t be the first in the area. Two elementary schools in Beaufort County, S.C., have been offering immersion programs in Chinese and Spanish for two years.
Getting the programs in public schools is important to Kozaily, she said, because becoming bilingual shouldn’t be only “for wealthy people or those who can afford private school.”

Read more in the Aug. 24 edition of the News.

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