Credit: Credit: Albemarle County Public Schools

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – Cale Elementary School principal, Lisa Jones, has received a 2016 Impact Award from the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (VASCD). Jones is the award recipient for Region 5, which includes more than 20 school divisions throughout Central Virginia.

A statewide organization, VASCD is comprised of more than 1,200 teachers, administrators, and higher education faculty. It is dedicated to advancing excellence in teaching, learning and leadership through the support of policies and programs that “are proactive and innovative in ensuring lifelong learning for all.”

The Impact Award is given each year to “professionals who consistently challenge themselves and others to learn, grow and achieve at the highest possible performance levels,” the organization said.

Jones earned the award for conceiving, designing and implementing the Spanish Immersion Program at Cale, serving nearly 270 students in kindergarten through fourth grade. Cale was the first elementary school in Albemarle County Public Schools to offer a world language program, and it now has two such programs. In addition to the Immersion Program, which delivers 50 percent of each day’s curriculum in Spanish to students, another 400 students participate in the Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES) program, which provides students with 120 minutes of instruction in Spanish each week.

“The great recession undercut one of our highest student development priorities—a world language program in all of our elementary schools,” explained Dr. Matthew Haas, the school division’s deputy superintendent. “Ms. Jones believed so passionately in giving students the opportunity to speak more than one language that she used her own limited school resources and a vigorous community fundraising plan to begin first a Spanish FLES program and now an Immersion program for Cale students. Ms. Jones did what only true high achievers can do: She removed the concept of ‘no’ from all of the discourse around offering a Spanish program to her students, moving it from the ‘nice to do’ category to ‘must do’ status,” he said.

Dr. Russell Carlock, who led the school division’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program during the Immersion Program’s formative years, noted that, “Children who once were separated from one another by language and culture now play together in the cafeteria, playground, and in the wider community. Parents from across the many neighborhoods of the district organize play dates that traverse traditional boundaries of language and culture. In conducting walkthroughs of the classrooms, one finds students performing at the highest of academic levels, engaged in project-based learning that flows seamlessly across two languages and includes the unique perspectives of multiple cultures.”

Jones consistently has cited research that shows how learning a second language at an early age contributes to the development of higher order thinking skills throughout a child’s academic career. In bringing the FLES and Immersion programs to Cale students, she described being able to speak only one language as the “illiteracy of the 21st century,” by the time today’s students reach adulthood.

Principal at Cale since 2007, Jones joined Albemarle Public County Schools in 2002 as the principal of Scottsville Elementary School. She previously served as an administrator in the Orange and Madison school divisions.