Sharpsburg Community gets grant to expand bilingual children's collection - FoxChapel

Sharpsburg Community gets grant to expand bilingual children’s collection

Tuesday, January 21, 2020 | 12:01 AM

A grant to expand the bilingual children’s collection at the Sharpsburg Community Library has Manager Sara Mariacher feeling excited.

“Que sorpresa! (What a surprise),” she said. “This will be a great resource for both language learners and native speakers.”

Money was made available through an Anonymous Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation.

The grant totals $1,500 and was approved through the Wish Book Project, an annual opportunity to connect donors to the needs of community non-profits.

Specifically, money will be used to buy items to grow the library’s bilingual Spanish/English children’s collection.

Mariacher expects about 100 new titles that include picture books, chapter books, graphic novels and non-fiction selections, all targeting pre-k and elementary-age children.

Items are expected to be on the shelves by March.

“As the second-most spoken language in the US, it is increasingly important for our children to be able to understand both English and Spanish,” Mariacher said.

While library staff doesn’t get too many requests, Mariacher said the collection will particularly serve students in the Fox Chapel Area School District’s Spanish immersion program, housed at Kerr Elementary.

Launched in fall 2019, the pilot program affords students the chance to become bilingual before leaving elementary school and is the first of its kind in Western Pennsylvania, school leaders said.

Select students from across the district have come together in one first-grade class and are taught in both languages.

The students spend the majority of their school day listening, speaking and learning core subjects in Spanish, with at least 80 percent of the instruction provided in the foreign language.

New classes are expected to be added the next four years so that the program eventually includes first- through fifth-grade.

School officials said cognitive benefits are derived from early language learning, and that there are long-term educational and career benefits accrued by bilingual students.

Mariacher said the new collection will be open to the greater community of native Spanish speakers and second language learners.

The library serves the communities of the Fox Chapel Area School District.