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Mundo Verde Groundbreaking Ceremony

One of the greatest things about Washington, D.C. is the wealth of educational choice that it provides its students. Though some may argue that traditional public schools should be able to cater to every type of student, when taking one look at the Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School, it’s difficult to argue that innovation is something negative.

Mundo Verde is the only school in the District that focuses on sustainability education, and it doesn’t stop there.  On top of that unique focus, it also combines bilingual education with project-based (expeditionary) learning. With their eco-friendly vision, it’s only fitting that the groundbreaking ceremony for their new campus took place on Earth Day (April 22nd).

The new building is in a great location, and seems to be a perfect fit for the vision that Mundo Verde’s leaders have for its future. After talking to some of the school’s founding board members, a group of parents who teamed up in 2010 to fill the gap that they saw in the D.C. charter system, I could tell that there was a strong, passionate support system that was heavily invested in the school’s success.

The school currently enrolls students from pre-K to second grade, but will expand up to fifth grade in the coming years. After fifth grade, Mundo Verde students will receive admissions preference at DC International School. The kindergarten and pre-K students participate in a full Spanish-language immersion program, while the first and second graders have a dual-immersion program, with classes taught in both English and Spanish.

The expeditionary learning model means that students focus on specific projects and become experts on a topic. A past topic was water, and students learned the ins and outs of water conservation and even had the opportunity to educate others on the subject. Their current topic is construction, which explained the mini hard hats that each student was wearing at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The ceremony (conducted in both English and Spanish) featured three prominent speakers, Abigail Smith, the Deputy Mayor for Education, Jesus Aguirre, the State Superintendent of DC, and Monica Palacio, the director of the DC Office of Human Rights. Each speaker had their own perspectives on education, but they all seemed to agree on the value of charter schools like Mundo Verde, the importance of environmental sustainability for our city, and the wealth of opportunities that language can provide.

To finish the event, they had a student come up and speak about his own experience at Mundo Verde. He made his speech in perfect English, but explained that he started at the school with no English speaking ability. He credited his teachers with helping him learn the language, and said that Mundo Verde has allowed him to learn English while still using his native language of Spanish and maintaining the value of his Latino culture.

The executive director of the school, Kristen Scotchmer, concluded the event by outlining their goals for the future of the school. They plan to continue their commitment to reducing their environmental impact by installing a water cistern, creating a commercial kitchen with locally grown foods, increasing the sustainability literacy in students and the community, and developing learning gardens. The learning gardens will allow the students to understand the process that goes into growing their own food, cooking it, eating it and then composting.

After interacting with board members, teachers and students at Mundo Verde, it is impossible not to be impressed by the achievements of this charter school. Not only do they provide a quality learning environment for all of their students, but they manage to do so in two different languages.

The event organizers had us write notes for a time capsule that will be opened in ten years by the second grade classes when they graduate from high school. They asked what we saw for the future of Mundo Verde.

Although I wasn’t sure of my answer at the beginning of the event, after witnessing all that it has to offer, I can confidently say that the future of the school is very bright. Mundo Verde is a great example of the incredible opportunities that charter schools can offer.

Bethany Tietjen, CER Intern

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