In the fall of 2007, The King’s Academy (TKA) Spanish Teacher, Patricia Wiechec, took action to bring one of her school values to life, servant leadership, by forging a partnership between her school and San Miguel Elementary. Leading by her actions, she challenged her students and colleagues to look beyond themselves and to use their gifts and talents to engage in local service.
The “Alianza Partnership”, Spanish for alliance, began when Patricia expressed her vision to former principal, Brenda Guy, and instructional coach, Anita Lee. After the departure of Guy and Lee five years ago, current principal Christina Ballantyne, Instructional Coaches Elizabeth Hernandez and Colleen Lynch Espinoza, and San Miguel teachers, continue to support and appreciate the partnership.
Patricia planted a seed that now has deep roots at San Miguel. When Juntos, the Spanish-English Dual Immersion program launched in 2015, this partnership took on a whole new life. Now, students in Patricia’s AP Spanish classes have the opportunity to be fully immersed in Spanish along with the kindergarten, first grade, and second-grade students in the Juntos program. They engage in conversations and tutor students in Spanish, allowing both TKA students and Juntos students the opportunity to build their bilingual and biliteracy skills. TKA students also serve as powerful bilingual role models for San Miguel’s emerging bilinguals.
However, besides volunteering in Juntos classrooms for an hour once a week, TKA continues to serve the entire San Miguel community. Every year, during TKA’s service week, a group of juniors, seniors, and teachers spend their entire week engaging in classroom activities and playing with students at recess and lunch. They end the week by presenting a play to the school with messages about positive self-image and having a growth mindset. In addition, they generously provide classroom supplies from teachers’ wish lists.
Teachers Julie Jahde-Young and Ben Davis organized a bilingual book drive to help provide more books in Spanish, particularly chapter books, for the eager readers at San Miguel. Along with the book donations from TKA families, students took the time to write encouraging messages to future readers inside each and every donated book. Finally, TKA community also started a Science Camp Fund and they generously donate money each year to support the cost of Walden West science camp.
Over the past 11 years TKA and San Miguel partnership has transformed and multiplied while continuing to foster lasting relationships between volunteers, teachers, students, and families.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” With the announced retirement of Patricia Wiechec, a dedicated and inspirational educator and leader who brings these words to life, the entire San Miguel community offer a special “¡Muchas gracias!” for her years of service and dedication.
Article written by Early Literacy Coach Colleen Lynch Espinoza.