Learn More About the Spanish/English Multiage Classroom Pilot (K/1, 2/3, 4/5))

PdH’s Spanish/English Multiage Program: A History

Our school passionately believes in our mission to bridge the cultures and languages of the Southwest in peace, beauty, and harmony, and we have absolute dedication to education for a better world. Because of this, we believe every student should have access to our program to the best of our ability. This commitment also lives into the spirit of our original essence in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, a landmark case for school desegregation which influenced the founding of our school. 

To address an increasing wait list from families wanting to attend PdH, our school decided to grow in 2016.  Learning from our past where an additional attempt to grow resulted in overall limitations in our building, multiage classrooms were deemed the best solution for more families to access PdH in a sustainable fashion. With three classrooms open at PdH in 2016, our school devised a plan for a K/1, 2/3, and 4/5 classroom to meet full capacity and ensure more families and students access PdH. A K/1 classroom was established in 2018 through numerous grants, a 2/3 was established in 2019, and a 4/5 was established in 2020. We are thankful for the grants awarded by the Arizona Community Foundation and FUSD to create the spaces and training for these spaces. 

To ensure a bilingual, inquiry-based experience, we leaned toward Montessori philosophy as a means to train and support our multiage leaders, as it is common for Montessori schools to have three “grade levels” in a classroom. This was not a mistake. Based on the quality of training, joy of the teaching experience, and the natural blend to the International Baccalaureate’s focus on peace education and inquiry, we now have all of our teachers trained in International Baccalaureate and half of our staff trained in Montessori methodologies, both in multiage and single-age classrooms.

What have we learned in the process? First, multiage has significant benefits, as does the blend of Montessori and the International Baccalaureate, as both have a shared history.   Nonetheless, it is beautiful for our school to have both multiage and single-age classrooms for the following reasons: 

  • Better align student need with learning style
  • To meet students “where they are,” thus allowing students to advance or provide better support on their learning trajectories
  • Explore a philosophy rooted on student centeredness and students’ social and emotional wellbeing

However, we understand that all families may not be comfortable with a multiage educational experience, and single-age classrooms also have their benefits. Thus, please request the multiage classrooms since this is not the norm in the United States to ensure we are supporting your family.  

In closing, all PdH teachers have been trained in inquiry-based methodologies, so in the near future, our multiage and single-age classrooms will look indistinguishable. Best-practices in education should be scaled, not only at PdH, but around the world. That being said, thank you for supporting Puente de Hozho in living its mission. First, we aim to build a bridge for students - to learn and respect one another, despite our differences. Second, we aim for our students to become bilingual, which allows students to realize our common humanity despite linguistic and cultural differences. Third, we believe in inquiry. Asking questions should not be radical. More often than not, especially in schools, it is. Thus, PdH will look to any and all “best practices” in seeing that students love the learning process, and most importantly, they are able to apply the learning process to solve the problems they deem most relevant.