Denair Elementary Charter Academy is a great place for students to start or continue their education.
The school features traditional as well as dual language immersion instructional tracks for kindergarten through fifth-graders, plus a transitional kindergarten program.
Youngsters are exposed early on to the importance of attending college, there is a wide range of fun and important electives and afterschool activities, and emphasis is placed on being safe, responsible, respectful and kind.
All this occurs on a pretty and well-maintained campus under the direction of an experienced staff passionate about educating students.
Word of DECA’s success continues to spread, with more than a third of its 558 students coming from outside the Denair Unified School District boundaries.
With kindergarten registration just four weeks away, a new crop of parents and students are poised to discover what so many others already know – DECA is the place to be for a quality elementary education in Stanislaus County.
Parents of children who will turn 5 by Sept. 1 of this year may begin picking up kindergarten application packets Jan. 22 at the DECA office. For the first time this year, they may also download forms off the DECA website http://dusd.k12.ca.us/deca.
Feb. 12 is the first day applications can be returned. Parents should be sure to include up-to-date immunization records, a birth certificate from the county the child was born in and proof of residency (a utility bill, for instance).
Parents intending to enroll their child in the popular dual language immersion program also must attend an orientation session. Dates will be announced soon.
The immersion program will be heading into its fifth year this fall. The first group of students is now in third grade; a new class will be added next year as they move up to fourth grade. There are two classes each at kindergarten, first and second grades.
All told, there are 132 DECA students in the program – 68 are native Spanish speakers, 61 are native English speakers and three speak a different language.
Immersion means just that. In kindergarten, 90% of the instruction is in Spanish, in first grade it drops to 80%, then 70% in second grade and 60% in third grade.
Teachers in kindergarten through second grade only speak Spanish in front of their students. English instruction takes place with other teachers.
“We want to provide them with a true immersive experience,” said Principal Kelly Beard. “Immersing them in Spanish provides opportunities for our non-native students to become fluent Spanish speakers.”
The goal, she explained, is to allow youngsters to grow into truly multicultural students who can read, write and speak well using both languages.
It’s not just dual language immersion students who learn a second language. Students on the traditional track also receive Spanish instruction two to three times a week in the language lab.
In addition, DECA provides a variety of fun and challenging Academic Adventure electives:
- Engineering design
- Health and nutrition
In addition, there are afterschool activities such as student council, safety patrol, the Coyote Reading Circle and the Baile Academy dance multicultural program in which students can participate.
It may be an elementary campus, but DECA is loaded with college awareness. There are pennants from various schools on the walls in the main office and displays in every classroom. Each class adopts a university and once a week, students and staff wear shirts representing that school.
The goal, Beard explained, is to begin planting the seeds at an early age that all students should aspire to attend college. That’s an important goal in places like Stanislaus County, where only 17% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
DECA also participates in the Positive Behaviors Intervention and Supports (PBIS) initiative, which sets expectations for how students conduct themselves. Posters hang in every setting laying out fundamentals of respect, safety, responsibility and kindness, and teachers consistently acknowledge students who model the best DECA Coyote behavior.
“It contributes to a positive culture on campus,” Beard said.
Parents are invited to come to the DECA campus and witness all the great things that are happening. To arrange a tour, please call the office (209) 632-8887. Office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.