Students at Irving Elementary will once again have the opportunity to learn Arabic this year, thanks to a federal education program.
Irving Elementary School is one of 29 schools selected in a nationwide competition to host a Teachers of Critical Language Program educator. The school will be hosting Sayed Keliey from Egypt, who will teach Arabic at Irving for an academic year.
"The program is really an incredible opportunity, not only for the children here in Bozeman, but also for the children back in Egypt and China. These connections and insights into how people around the world live … It's just so valuable," said former Irving Elementary principal Adrian Advincula, who was principal during Irving's teacher exchange last year.
In addition to receiving a native speaker of Arabic to teach language classes, students, teachers and community members will have the opportunity to learn about the teachers' home countries.
The program is designed to increase the study of important world languages in U.S. schools. It enables schools to strengthen their teaching of critical languages.
"It's a truly unique opportunity, really," said Advincula. "Not just for the kids and the teachers at Irving … But for Sayed to bring his experience back to Egypt, too."
In return, exchange teachers gain first-hand knowledge of the U.S. to share with students and fellow teachers in their home countries. Many schools establish lasting bonds with their exchange teachers' home schools.
The program aims to build a mutual understanding and respect that reaches beyond stereotypes. Launched in 2006, it has launched or expanded over 185 critical language programs in K-12 schools nationwide.