Cinco de Mayo - Viva Espanol!

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Texans have always loved Cinco de Mayo. Yet in Texas, and most of the country for that matter, few truly know the historical significance of the holiday, but it sure is a good time for a cold margarita and Mexican food. In honor of this holiday commemorating Mexico's defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, we talk to client and friend, Adriana Rodriguez, founder and executive director of Jardin de Ninos Interlingua (JNI), a Spanish immersion school with two Austin locations and a third scheduled to open in Lakeway this July.

This impressive school and curriculum has grown from 20 students when founded in 2007 to 200 at 2011 enrollment. JNI is NAEYC accredited and an official candidate for certification as an International Baccalaureate institution.   The school believes that reaching children at an early age is the best time to provide experiences that prepare them to successfully maneuver in a multilingual and multicultural world.

Q: Why did you start JNI? Having proficiency in more than one language has been shown to enhance a child's overall verbal development, heighten creativity, as well as improve cognitive performance in overall basic skills necessary for elementary school. Jardín de Niños believes in providing diverse, multicultural experiences to cultivate openness and an appreciation for different cultures. We believe this prepares children to successfully maneuver in a multilingual and multicultural world.

Q: What is your background in education? I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Development from Santa Teresa de Jesus College “La Florida" and a Master’s Degree in Educational Development from National Pedagogical University in Mexico City. My studies were based on the social constructive method and how children learn from one another. I also have an Administration License and both PYP Administration Category 1 and 2 Certifications from the International Baccalaureate education foundation.

It was my father, the undersecretary of education in Mexico, who instilled in me the belief that ‘Education is a transformation of the world.’ Watching him in action for more than 20 years, I knew I wanted to help create a community that involves children who would become world contributors.

Q: You’re in the midst of International Baccalaureate accreditation. Why is this an important certification for JNI?  The IB accreditation is truly the highest form of certification for primary schools. For more than 40 years, this international foundation has earned its reputation as a gold standard in educational programs and curriculum that helps develop culturally diverse leaders of tomorrow. Their mission statement says it all: The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

Q: Are most of the students from families with Hispanic backgrounds? While there are many students who have a mother or father with some kind of Hispanic heritage, we have a very diverse student body representing a range of backgrounds and nationalities.

Q: What do you envision for the school in 5 years?  I would like to see more JDNI schools in Austin and other Texas cities. We’re excited about our third location opening in Lakeway this summer. And, I want to see all students fully bilingual which is already well on its way!

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the students of JNI this Cinco de Mayo at 3pm at the Hill Country Galleria. The children, ages 2.5 to 11 years, will perform traditional songs and dances in the Amphitheatre followed by a mariachi performance. Free of charge.

To learn more about the school, including summer camp programs, visit www.austinbilingualschool.com