BELLFLOWER – Bellflower Unified’s Washington Elementary School on Wednesday received a $5,000 grant from the Barona Band of Mission Indians that will benefit the school’s new dual-language immersion program.

The school was chosen for the award by state Sen. Tony Mendoza, who personally delivered the grant award to Bellflower Board of Education President Dr. Sue ElHessen during a visit to the school’s kindergarten dual-language immersion class.

“When you have a dual-immersion program, there’s always a need to have supplemental materials that sometimes our core curriculum doesn’t cover,” said Mendoza, who was a classroom teacher for 10 years before joining the state Legislature.

“Finances are really short, but $5,000 can actually boost a library or provide extra materials to help teach that second language, and I think that’s important for our kids,” Mendoza said.

The Barona Band of Mission Indians provides the $5,000 annually for schools in each district of the state Assembly and Senate. Individual legislators choose who receives the funds based on applications.

ElHessen thanked Mendoza for the grant and his focus on education issues.

“What really makes it special is that you are a teacher and your wife is a teacher,” ElHessen said. “We need politicians who really understand education.”

Bellflower Unified Superintendent Dr. Brian Jacobs said the grant will help expand resources for the dual-language immersion program, which starts students on the path to bilingualism and biliteracy. Studies have shown that students who learn two languages significantly boost their academic performance and are more competitive in today’s global marketplace.

Washington Elementary asked for the funds for its dual-language immersion program, which was added this fall. The school is the second site for the Spanish-English program launched five years ago at Bellflower Unified’s Intensive Learning Center.

Today, the Intensive Learning Center offers dual-immersion classes through fourth grade. Both schools also offer a preschool dual-language class.

The program has been highly popular since its creation. The Washington program has even drawn families from area private schools.

“This grant is a nice addition to our program that will allow us to offer some expanded opportunities to our students,” Jacobs said. “It’s terrific to see this kind of support from our senator and our community.”


BUSD_BARONA_ 1: State Sen. Tony Mendoza shows off a check for $5,000 to teacher Anna Fletes’ dual-language kindergarten students at Bellflower Unified’s Washington Elementary School on Oct. 4. Mendoza chose the school to receive the grant from the Barona Band of Mission Indians.

BUSD_BARONA_1: State Sen. Tony Mendoza awarded a $5,000 grant to Bellflower Unified’s Washington Elementary School to support its new dual-language immersion program. Pictured (l-r) are Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Stacey Larson-Everson, Superintendent Dr. Brian Jacobs, Board President Dr. Sue ElHessen, Principal Dr. Angelica Montenegro and Mendoza.