Click through to take a virtual tour. Foreign Language Academy (FLA) is a full language immersion K-8 school and part of Kansas City Public Schools. It is a signature school so students throughout the district may attend but applications are required. Because it is a full immersion Spanish and Chinese language school, students at Foreign Language Academy are only admitted in grades K-1. After that, students must pass a language placement exam to demonstrate grade level mastery of the language.
Dr. Joell Ramsdell is the building principal. He has been at FLA for five years. He also serves as a classroom collaborator and gives critical feedback on projects like this infographic about Taino Indian culture created by the school's 4th graders.
At FLA student culture is front and center. Bulletin boards and posters line the hallways in Spanish and Chinese. This one is in Spanish and welcomes people to school.
In Chinese class, the teacher has written hanzi or Chinese characters on the board to help students retain their meaning.
Here, kindergarten students work with friends to complete their work in Chinese. Their teacher assists in mostly Chinese, but she will use English as well until students understand what to do.
In addition to language immersion, FLA has an advanced elementary IB curriculum. The International Baccalaureate® (IB) is an advanced international education curriculum that only some schools are authorized to teach. Students at all grade levels are challenged with units of instruction developed around deep inquiry and key concepts that are meant to encourage both personal and academic achievement. Here is a bulletin board explaining a unit first grade recently completed.
In class, teachers are native language speakers. At FLA teachers come from countries all over the world including Puerto Rico, China, Honduras, Portugal and Mexico. (Do you see Principal Ramsdell in the back? He is a regular visitor in all classrooms and many students love to give him hugs!)
Dr. Ramsdell is a (non-native) Spanish speaker himself and can often be found in classrooms assisting students. All students at FLA have computers to use in class. They are used on a regular basis to research new ideas, complete projects, or practice 21st century skills.
In lower elementary, students store their book bags and papers in their classrooms. This student is going to her “mailbox” to get her assignment for class. While they work on language mastery simple routines and procedures are emphasized to help students focus on coursework.
Upper elementary students and middle school students have lockers.
In class, these students practice their moves for World Cultures Day. Each year, FLA hosts a festival that celebrates the different cultures present in the building and in the community. Students and families participate as do vendors, food trucks, and dance troupes.
These students use hand signals to show their teacher they understand his expectations for their collaborative group work time. Students are encouraged to work together in many classes.
In 8th grade, students are working on a report about their recent trip to Costa Rica. Each year, 8th grade students go on a trip abroad with their teachers and peers for a full language immersion experience.
In computer class, these students pause from their work with coding and web design. Their teacher encourages them to use a combination of class instruction and experimentation to see their visions come to life.
These 8th grade students work on multimedia designs in art. These projects will go up in the hallways like other projects they have completed.
Here are examples of masks that lower elementary students made.
And here is a quote that middle school students really liked, designed in art class, and decided to display in their hallway.
In band, this student is working with his teacher to clean his instrument. In addition to art, computer lab, PE and band students at FLA have debate, cooking/gardening class, and drama club. All electives are taught in English. There are many free after school clubs for students to choose from as well. Like all elementary schools in KCPS Before and After School care are free to every FLA student.
FLA is a Leader in Me School. This means that they focus on teaching students to self manage and exhibit leadership traits using specially designed curriculum from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Students have consistent behavioral expectations building wide from Kindergarten to 8th grade.
Those consistent expectations mean that classes are free to use common areas like this one to practice for World Cultures Day. Students are trusted to stay on task and exhibit appropriate behavior in common areas.
Each floor of FLA has open collaborative spaces for teachers and students to use as they see fit. Teachers can move classes out to these areas at any time during the day and students can work here with teacher permission.
Students across the building hold themselves to high expectations. In this 5th grade classroom, students have entered a friendly competition with other classes to see who can read the most books.
As a part of Kansas City Public Schools, every student at FLA gets free breakfast and lunch. All meals are eaten in the cafeteria.
The gym and auditorium are one in the same at FLA, and like the rest of the building, the space highlights the diversity of the student body. These flags represent FLA students (past and present) and their home countries.
Despite being located in the heart of Kansas City, FLA is not landlocked. Students have several areas to play including this playground...
...and this one as well. This playground is specifically for K-2 students.
FLA also has outdoor basketball and tennis courts.
And a green space for container gardening. These vegetables are harvested and prepared by the cooking club. They can also take vegetables home.
FLA is a school where students learn to appreciate who they are and share that with the world.