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McCallie Spanish Students Join with East Lake Elementary School in Innovative Multilingual Program to Improve Childhood Literacy

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What do 20 McCallie Spanish students do when they have a free class period during the day? More likely than not, they are on their computers talking and reading in Spanish and English to children at East Lake Elementary School.

It is part of an innovative program promoted by Preface, a non-profit company founded by McCallie alumnus J.T. Wu, class of 2012.

The Preface program pairs high school foreign language students with children who are struggling with English literacy. With the East Lake Elementary students, students in Frank Watkins’ Spanish classes are assisting Hispanic children.

On Friday, Nov. 6, Mr. Wu, Mr. Watkins, and Dean of Faculty and Curriculum Sumner McCallie, visited East Lake Elementary to deliver more than 200 multi-lingual books that the children will be able to use when having sessions with the McCallie students.

Mr. Wu started Preface shortly after graduating from Princeton University. The pilot project was started in Mr. Wu’s hometown in suburban Atlanta.  In that pilot project, the participating children moved from being functionally illiterate in English to reading at or above their grade level in 10 weeks. Preface has expanded its network to six states and the McCallie program began last October.

At first, the McCallie students traveled to East Lake Elementary to read to the elementary children, but after the COVID-10 outbreak, they have conducted their sessions via a special computer program that Preface developed.

J.T.  Wu'12 is pictured with East Lake Elementary School Principal Joyce Lancaster. 

Mr. Watkins said the program not only has been fun for McCallie’s students but also has helped them improve their Spanish skills while helping the children improve their English skills.

A news story about McCallie’s partnership with East Lake Elementary School will air on WDEF-TV (Channel 12) on Monday, Nov. 9 at 6 and 11 p.m., and again at noon on Nov. 10. It also can be viewed through WDEF’s web site here.

Preface’s announcement of the Tennessee expansion can be found here: https://www.prefaceproject.org/post/tennessee-expansion