River Oaks Baptist School received the 2008 Melba D. Woodruff Award for Exemplary Elementary Foreign Language Program presented by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. The award is given to only one school or school district in the nation and it is awarded based on the criteria of:
- The quality of the school program model
- The evidence of curriculum aligned with national standards
- Overall student achievement
While this award specifically recognizes the Kindergarten through sixth grade portion of River Oaks Baptist’s Spanish program, it also honors the school’s effort to have an integrated Spanish program throughout the R.O.B.S. lower, primary and middle schools. This can be seen with the introduction of Spanish instruction in the Primary School as Primary School faculty members have attended the University of Houston’s Accelerated Spanish for Educators Program and incorporate the language naturally and spontaneously throughout the school day.
In Kindergarten through fifth grade, the Spanish program utilizes a content-related approach that uses the school’s science curriculum and topics as a vehicle for Spanish instruction. Scientific topics like animal kingdoms, plants and the environment are covered in Spanish following the English instruction already presented in their science classes. Taught entirely in Spanish, the classes encourage Spanish comprehension and production in real contexts from the very beginning and the curriculum is spiraled throughout the Lower School. The youngest students communicate in one-word utterances, which develop into sentences, and ultimately the creation of paragraphs.
Sixth graders have the option of beginning a formal study of Spanish which is completed in seventh grade. Students are then enrolled in a more comprehensive Spanish course in eighth grade paving the way for them to enter high school in advanced Spanish courses. River Oaks Baptist School graduates have gone on to sit for Advanced Placement Spanish examinations as early as their sophomore year in high school and R.O.B.S. students commonly go on to minor and major in the Spanish language at the university level and continue to use the language in their professional careers.
Members of the School’s Foreign Language Department and the administration will officially accept the award at the 2008 ACTFL Annual Convention Awards Ceremony in November at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida.