LILA accepts awards

The Character Education Partnership presented Lakes International Language Academy (LILA) with a 2012 National Promising Practices in Character Education Award on Nov. 3 in Washington, DC. The award honors schools that have developed specific, unique and effective educational practices that promote character development.

LILA won the award for its partnership with the Minnesota Twins’ Emerging Markets Department to “Celebrate Diversity,” a program to encourage and inspire “international-mindedness” and build communities across cultural boundaries. The Twins partnership with LILA is beginning its fourth year.

In the partnership, LILA students use their world language skills to bridge cultural gaps. LILA students, staff and parents have helped organize and participate in special Twins events, including a community baseball clinic, Twins Caravan, the annual Jackie Robinson essay contest, and Spanish radio broadcasts of Twins games.

In 2011, students sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in Japanese during the seventh inning stretch at Target Field to help welcome the Twins’ new Japanese player Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

Julie Lundgren, LILA CFO and founding board member, shared the practice at a poster session at CEP’s National Forum on Character Education.

A second award was given to honor the partnership program between LILA and Forest Lake Area Schools. The Language Continuation Program, which began five years ago at Southwest Junior High School, was chosen as a national best cooperative practice for the second time in two years.

A national panel of leaders in education innovation conducted a nationwide search to find the most promising and effective collaborative practices between charter and traditional public schools. Selected practices had to show strong originality, inventiveness and the ability to be replicated. The best submissions were selected for presentation at a conference in Denver, CO, on Nov. 5.

Two representatives from LILA participated in the conference. Melissa Martyr-Wagner, a founding board member and current foundation director, and Julie Lundgren, founding board member and CFO, gave a presentation sharing the schools’ collaborative effort.

LILA is a tuition-free public elementary and International Baccalaureate World School teaching grades kindergarten to 6 in a Spanish or Mandarin Chinese immersion environment. The Language Continuation Program allows LILA graduates to maintain and further develop their near-native language proficiency by taking two to three courses in various subjects, all taught in Spanish. This year at SWJH, Continuation Program participants receive instruction in Spanish in Science, Geography/History (Social Studies), and Spanish Cultural Studies.

The two districts have begun planning for the addition of Mandarin Chinese to the Language Continuation Program, in anticipation of the first Chinese-speaking LILA alumni, due to begin at SWJH in 2019.

The LILA District 4116-FLAS District 831 partnership was the only practice chosen from Minnesota.

The conference was made possible through a grant by Ohio Grantmakers Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

To learn more about LILA’s award-winning programs and teachers, call 651-464-0771 to join upcoming tours on Nov. 14 and Nov. 27.