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Cool Schools: Global Village Academy in Northglenn returns to in-person learning

The language immersion charter school began the school year remotely which was tough for many students.

NORTHGLENN, Colo. — Global Village Academy (GVA) in Northglenn is a language immersion charter school that recently returned to in-person learning at the beginning of February.

GVA serves around 820 kindergarten through 8th grade students predominately from the north Denver metro area with 45% of their student population being English language learners.

The school’s principal Nicole Wetzel said starting the school year remotely was tough for many students.

“Our K-through-5th grade students spend half their day with a language immersion teacher either Spanish, Russian or Mandarin/Chinese (and) the other half of their day is spent in an English class,” Wetzel said.

Like most schools across the state, GVA was forced to make the move to remote learning last spring. The school moved back to in-person on Oct. 1 for about 6 weeks and then had to close again.

Credit: Byron Reed

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Wetzel said the new remote learning protocols didn’t necessarily work.

“With language immersion you need to be able to act out what’s happening,” she said. “You need to be able to move your body and use props and really get the kids involved in the learning and that’s really difficult over a camera.”

Credit: Byron Reed

“On the screen, I (don’t) often see what they need from me at,” added teacher Larysa Abiina. “Sometimes, I want to help them to do something when they need my support.”

Abiina teaches Russian at the school and said she’s happy to get back to in-person learning because her students are too young to learn remotely.

“Our life in school is much better than at home,” Abiina said.  “(It’s) more interesting and we can communicate, we can learn so we’re happy to come back.”

Credit: Byron Reed

Both students and teachers agree, being back in school helps keep them focused on their lessons resulting in higher progress.

“When I’m at my house, I get distracted on some things,” said second grader Jayla Morales. “I’ve got a couple of dogs.”

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According to the school, they’re we are minimizing the number of our quarantines due to the pandemic this time around and things are going better.

Wetzel said its also the uncertainty for their students switching back and forth from remote to in-person learning so they’re trying to support them with mental resources as well.

Credit: Byron Reed

“That isolated feeling is not a fun feeling,” Wetzel said. “We’re all in this because we like being around people and kids so that’s where we get our energy.”

Wetzel said she’s glad her students are now back in the building where they can feel supported by a staff happy to see them back.

“It’s a very unique opportunity and we’re pretty unique particularly in this area of town,” she said. “Being in-person is so much better…it’s the ideal situation.”

For more information about the school, visit northglenn.gvaschools.org.  

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